No matter what you hear from other residents, and no matter how much you pay per gallon, New Jersey gas stations aren’t price gouging.
The offense doesn’t even exist in the Garden State when there’s no state of emergency, which means gas stations in New Jersey could technically charge as high as they want, for compensate for the increased costs they face as a result of the Ukrainian crisis.
According to the New Jersey Consumer Affairs Divisionthe state’s predatory pricing law prohibits “excessive price increases” during a declared state of emergency — due to a disastrous storm, for example — and for 30 days afterward.
So alerting authorities to exorbitant prices will likely be a waste of time.
“Right now, if I want to go out and raise my price to $10 a gallon, there’s nothing stopping me from doing that, and there shouldn’t be,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automobile Association. “And what you’re seeing right now is the retailer passing on costs as they get new gasoline deliveries.”
Even in a state of emergency, Risalvato noted, retailers can raise prices if the reason is to offset their own additional costs.
How often can stations change prices?
Consumers would, however, have the right to complain if a service station adjusts its prices more than once in a 24-hour period. New Jersey law prohibits it, and stations face a $1,500 fine for a violation.
Risalvato said he hasn’t heard of any member stations seeking more than one price hike in the same day. But, he said, because prices are rising so quickly for retailers, some may choose to “break the law” in order to compensate for sudden increases on their end.
“Keep in mind that there is another law that prohibits selling gasoline below cost,” Risalvato said.
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