State Investigating 600 Price Gouging Complaints

Posted at 7:34 PM, Sep 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-19 20:48:13-04

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has received and began investigating hundreds of price gouging complaints from the weekend. 

The department's Consumer Affairs received nearly 600 complaints via online forms or voicemails in response to the lack of fuel. 

Typically, the state would get 5,000 total complaints every year.

"That's off the charts for us, we are in the midst of of sorting through the overflow of complaints," TDCI Communications Director Kevin Walters said. 

Prices increased as a result of a pipeline leak in Alabama nearly two weeks ago. 

Governor Haslam issued an executive order to increase the hours of truckers shipping fuel. Panic over a possible gas shortage prompted drivers to pack gas stations and tap them out throughout the mid-state.

"It was frustrating this weekend," Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association President Rob Ikard told NewsChannel 5. "There was a sudden and unnatural demand of gas over the weekend."

Majority of the complaints were from the Nashville metro area with reports of gas prices ranging from $3 per gallon to as high as $9.99 per gallon. 

Under Tennessee law, it is unlawful to grossly charge essential goods or services in a time of emergency. 

There are so many complaints the Consumer Affairs staff is still logging the complaints. State officials say they will go through each complaint with a legal team to determine the validity of the complaint.

The Attorney General will review and investigate the complaint. If there is a violation, the business could face an injunction or a $1,000 fine. 

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