For Immediate Release - September 17, 2012

Consumer Affairs Inspectors To Check For Gouging, Perform Three-point Price Check At Massachusetts Gas Stations

Offers Top Five Tips to Save on Gas

BOSTON - With gas prices rising 10 cents in the last week in Massachusetts and threatening to clear the $4 mark, state inspectors will perform three-point price checks at gas stations across the Commonwealth to ensure consumers are not being gouged and that gas stations are following rules regarding proper price signage and other regulations.

"At a time when gas is significantly more expensive than normal, it is important to ensure consumers are not paying more than they should because of mistakes by gas stations," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Price gouging is not common, but drivers can be assured the Patrick-Murray Administration is policing the beat and we will not tolerate business practices that unfairly harm consumers."

According to a AAA Southern New England survey released today, the average price of a gallon of "regular" gas is $3.909, 10 cents above last week's mark, with the highest prices found hitting $4.09 per gallon. A year ago, the price was $3.62, according to AAA.

Along with looking for potential gouging or prices that are appreciably higher than normal in a geographic area, Division of Standards inspectors will also be checking for accuracy and compliance with advertising and signage requirements. During the three-point price check, inspectors will be ensuring that street signs, posted pump signs, and computer signs are all showing and registering the same price for gas. When a gas station raises the price of its gas, it must adjust the street sign to the higher price before changing the pump price. Also, discounts for paying with cash, getting a car wash or other incentive must be clearly labeled on street signs.

Drivers and consumers who believe they have been victimized by a gasoline station should call the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation at 888-283-3757 toll free and file a complaint. Consumers should provide as much specific information - such as the location of the service station, time of incident, and type of incident - as possible. Any probable findings of gouging from the inspection will be turned over to the Attorney General's Office.

Undersecretary Anthony also offered consumers 5 tips to help conserve gas, emphasizing the importance of comparison shopping for gas and driving efficiently.

5 Tips to Save on Gas:

  1. Shop around. Make sure to fill up at the cheapest nearby gas station - two blocks could save you 20 cents a gallon.
  2. Control your speed. Drive at or below the speed limit and avoid sudden changes in speed.
  3. Use loyalty cards. Take advantage of loyalty cards that offer rebates or lower prices for filling up at certain stations.
  4. Consolidate trips. Plan to fill up while you're already out - don't make a separate trip.
  5. Maintain your car. Properly inflating tires and keeping your engine in top shape can both drastically increase fuel efficiency.

The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards enforces laws, rules, and regulations relating to weights and measures and the use of weighing and measuring devices in commercial transactions. It consistently checks item pricing and pricing methods at retailers throughout Massachusetts. The Division is part of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. For more on the Division and the Office, visit www.mass.gov/consumer and the Office's Consumer Connections blog, and follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter @Mass_Consumer.

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