CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A gas station in north Charlotte has been sued by the State of North Carolina for price gouging after reportedly selling gas for nearly $10 during the Colonial Pipeline shutdown in May.
According to the lawsuit, Mansa Travel Center Charlotte, LLC sold midgrade gas at the Queen’s Market on Sugar Creek Road for $9.99 per gallon, a 278% increase over its previous retail price, during a state of emergency due to the shutdown of the pipeline.
During the shutdown, finding gas across the Carolinas was a headache for drivers.
“You couldn’t get any gas so if you find a gas station and you can get some gas you know you get it, although it is priced too high,” Venita said while pumping gas at Queen’s Market.
RJ Kelly said he was searching for gas when he turned into Queen’s Market and saw the sign that listed of the cost per gallon.
“I was like, ‘there is no way I am playing that much for gas.’ I was like, ‘that is 3 tanks of gas for my car,’” Kelly said.
He did not end up filling up. Instead, he was one of twelve people to submit a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
“It’s kind of insane that they were basically monetizing people’s needs for an essential thing for work for some people,” Kelly said.
The lawsuit alleges that the company acknowledged that it posted the prices at $9.999 per gallon. A customer also took a video of a receipt that reflected the price.
The state accused the company of increasing prices “despite no material increase in fuel cost” and said it violated North Carolina’s prohibition on price gouging during a state of emergency.
A cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline in May forced the shutdown that sparked a rush on fuel across the East Coast. Gas stations in North Carolina struggled to keep their fuel in supply.
“We are deeply sorry for the impact that this attack had,” said Joseph Blount, President and CEO of Colonial Pipeline. “We had cyber defenses but the unfortunate reality is those defenses were compromised.”
North Carolina is seeking Mansa Travel Center Charlotte to pay $5,000 in civil penalties for each instance of price gouging and unfair trade practices.