Attorney General Cuomo Announces Investigation Revealing Nearly One-third Of Long Island Gas Stations Inspected Engaged In Deceptive Practices

MINEOLA, N.Y. (August 21, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an ongoing investigation by his office into the sale of gasoline has found that approximately one-third of Long Island gas stations surveyed engaged in deceptive practices, including wrongfully surcharging credit card customers. Cuomo’s statewide investigation discovered that the Long Island region has far more gas stations that illegally overcharge customers for gas than any other region in the state. Under New York State law, retailers are not allowed to impose a surcharge on customers for using a credit card.

In addition, Cuomo’s investigation also identified instances where gas stations across Long Island engaged in false advertising by only listing the lower cash prices on their street-view signage in order to lure patrons to the pump. In several cases, the stations failed to disclose that the price was only for cash transactions. Once at the pump, consumers discovered that they were charged more for using a credit card - a deceptive “bait and switch” practice.

Today, Cuomo announced that his office is in the process of sending “cease-and-desist” letters to approximately 43 gas stations that were found to be engaged in deceptive and unlawful practices.

“With summer gas prices reaching an all-time high, the last thing Long Island drivers need are gas stations hitting them with exorbitant prices for paying with a credit card,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Our investigation revealed that Long Island is a hotbed for gas stations that engage in deceptive practices where they display one price as a way to lure customers - and then charge them more at the pump.”

Attorney General Cuomo’s office conducted an investigation that inspected approximately 120 gas stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties and found that an estimated one-third of gas stations were engaged in deceptive practices by either charging customers more for using a credit card, or by posting only the lower cash prices on their large, street-facing signs in order to lure patrons to their station and then charging them more at the pump.