AG’s Office Settles Price-Gouging Complaint with Loudoun Gas Station

The Virginia Attorney General’s Office on Thursday announced a settlement with the owners of West End Motors in Lovettsville following allegations of gasoline price gouging during last spring’s Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

According to the announcement, the business raised the prices of all three grades of gasoline during the May 2021 period when many stations were running out of supplies. On those days, the gas station charged average prices of as much as $3.51 for regular unleaded gasoline, $3.799 for plus (midgrade) gasoline, and $3.999 for premium gasoline—more than 20% higher than the 10 days before the statewide state of emergency was declared. The Attorney General’s Office alleged that the prices may have climbed even higher during that period. Also, investigators concluded the increases were not attributable to additional costs incurred by the business in connection with the sale of the gasoline. They alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. 

Under the terms of the settlement, West End Motors agreed to pay $6,567.53 in restitution for affected consumers and to pay $1,250 in civil penalties and $1,250 in attorneys’ fees. The settlement was filed April 6 for approval with the Loudoun County Circuit Court.  No hearing date has been set.

Affected consumers should file complaints with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section—online at oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection—to receive consideration for reimbursement if they purchased gasoline on May 11, 12 or 14. 

“Virginia law protects consumers from businesses increasing prices on necessary goods and services during a time of crisis,” Attorney General Jason Miyares stated. “I am pleased that my office reached an agreement that will make restitution dollars available for affected consumers. The Consumer Protection Section at the Office of the Attorney General will continue to fight for consumer rights and investigate complaints of alleged price gouging during states of emergency in the commonwealth.” 

If a Virginia consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging during a declared state of emergency, they may call the Consumer Protection Hotline or download a complaint form from the Attorney General’s Office website and submit it by mail, by fax, or in-person. Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint. If consumers believe they are a victim of price gouging specific to motor fuel they should file complaints with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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