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Gas prices: Price gouging?

Ruth to the Rescue tracks price increases

DETROIT – Ever since Tropical Storm Isaac roared into the Gulf of Mexico, Ruth to the Rescue has been keeping an eye on prices at the pump here in Michigan.

We told you they would jump, and they have.

On August 30th, AAA Michigan reported the statewide average has increased once again to $4.08. That's up three cents from August 29th, and 15 cents since August 28th. There could be a silver lining. Nancy Cain of AAA Michigan says while prices might still go up a bit, the worst increases should be over.

America gets 25% of its oil from the Gulf region. Many oil rigs were evacuated even before the storm hit the coast, cutting production immediately. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that analysts do not expect any lasting disruptions, but they're waiting for oil companies to confirm that prediction.

Allegations of Gouging in Michigan

Here in Michigan, the Attorney General's office has received about 100 complaints of alleged price gouging. The office says each complaint will be carefully reviewed. Just before Isaac turned into a hurricane and pushed ashore, Attorney General Bill Schuette released a warning to gas stations that price gouging is illegal in our state.

Referring to the storm and the upcoming holiday weekend Schuette said at the time, ""These circumstances are not a free pass for price gouging. My office monitors gas prices closely, and we will not hesitate to take action if evidence of price gouging surfaces."

Schuette's office says it monitors retail profit margins and actual cost of providing gasoline products, so it's ready to investigate any complaints of gouging.

How To Report The Problem

If consumers become aware of direct evidence of a conspiracy between companies, or have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a price "grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold," they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

The phone number is 877-765-8388 or go online at www.michigan.gov/ag.

For more information on gas prices in Michigan see Attorney General Schuette's Consumer Alert: Increased Gas Prices? Again?