When Should I File an Incident ReportIn general, there are three distinct types of gasoline pricing incidents the attorney general's office is authorized to investigate: agreements between retailers to fix prices, deceptive sales acts, and excessive pricing during a state of emergency declared by the Governor. You may file an incident report with our office under these circumstances.
An explanation of each type is provided below:
1. Agreements between retailers to fix prices.
Some sort of direct evidence must be available in order to prove in court the existence of an agreement to fix prices. Direct evidence requires witnesses who actually observe the retailers making an agreement to fix prices. Or, we need witnesses who have actually observed emails, letters, signed contracts or other written material demonstrating an agreement to fix prices. Direct evidence of price-fixing could also occur where a witness hears with his or her own ears competing retailers agreeing to fix prices. Finally, it is essential that any witness be willing to appear and testify in court against the offending parties.
Another form of evidence of this violation is circumstantial evidence; that is, consumers notice that two or more gasoline stations raise and lower their prices at almost exactly the same time. Circumstantial evidence of this type may be valuable in proving a case in court, but circumstantial evidence is by its nature subject to multiple explanations. Therefore, to actually prove the existence of an agreement between retailers to fix prices, direct evidence is also required.
2. Deceptive sales acts
One type of violation is false or misleading advertising. It may be a deceptive sales act to display any type of signage or commercial ad that says gasoline is one price when the price actually charged is a different price. If, for example, the sign you saw showed a price of $1.59 9/10 per gallon, but you get a receipt that says you were charged $1.64 9/10 per gallon, that could be a deceptive sales act. Please note that sometimes an advertised price may require a coupon or be conditioned in some way.
3. Excessive pricing during a state of emergency declared by Governor
In 2002, the Indiana legislature adopted a law making it illegal to engage in excessive pricing during a state of emergency. The law is designed to prevent retailers from profiting at the expense of consumers should any emergency, like the September 11 tragedy, ever occur again. This law is triggered when the governor declares a state of emergency; the law can only be used while the state of emergency is in place and where there are insufficient cost factors to justify the increase. There is no specific percentage of price increase that is prohibited by the law. The law prohibits any price increase that "grossly exceeds" the price at which the gasoline was available before the emergency was declared.
Download the incident report form
Or, call the gas hotline at (866) 241-9753.
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