Station Owners: Don't Blame Us For High Gas Prices - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/08/05

Station Owners: Don't Blame Us For High Gas Prices

High prices at the pump aren't keeping drivers away. It's steady business at stations everywhere with customers paying anywhere from $2.07 to $2.25.

"I think it's unfair. We're in a time where we have to have it to leave and we don't have a choice," one driver said.

"Obviously, they know people are going to be using the gas and taking long trips due to the situation and I don't want to point any fingers, but I think there's a lot of things going on that we don't know about," another driver said.

Gas station owner Wade Stegall says he hears that a lot. His gas has gone up 15 cents in two days. Friday he went from $2.08 to $2.18.

"We hear the complaints. We get accused of price gouging when really it's a level beyond us that raise the prices."

Stegall says the refineries control the prices. With Hurricane Dennis forcing his suppliers in Alabama and Mississippi to shut down, the closest fuel source he has is in Chalmette, Louisiana.

"I can see their point of view as a consumer. When they see prices go up from $2.03 to $2.23 in one day, they automatically think the retailer is raising their prices, when in fact it's actually the refineries that do that."

That's why Keith Fayard says he's charging people $2.25 when earlier this week a tank of gas at his station was $2.05

"I think some people will get the wrong impression, but the people who know and follow what gas is going through and all and how the stock market is, they realize that the price of gas is that high."

Fayard says the storm will drive up prices everywhere.

"The one's who's not raising to what we are, they're selling the inventory that wasn't that price right now, so eventually they'll have to go up too."

Assistant Attorney General Grant Hedgepeth says businesses can increase prices as their costs go up. However, he says they can't increase their profits, but he admits there is no way to regulate that.

If price gouging is spotted, Attorney General Jim Hood asks that you contact the state's Office of Consumer Protection at 1-800-281-4418. Click here to find more consumer tips for storm victims.

byMarcia Hill

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