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November 2003

Dillon, Bogsted Announce Charges Against Gas Stations

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon and Nassau County Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Roger Bogsted announced charges today against two gasoline stations for using deceptive practices to cheat customers.

According to Dillon, "This investigation began as a result of consumer complaints received by the Office of Consumer Affairs. Two customers of the Amoco station at 200 Hillside Avenue in New Hyde Park complained that the attendant, after pumping their gas, had attempted to charge them more than the total price registered on the pump. They explained that when gas is being pumped, the price is not clearly visible from the car. On September 24, investigators from the District Attorney's Office and the Office of Consumer Affairs drove into the station and ordered $20 worth of gas. We videotaped the gas pump while the gas was being pumped. Although the tank was not yet filled, the attendant stopped the pump when the price reached $17.04. He then accepted payment of $20 in cash from the driver, and walked away without giving any change.

"Following complaints about the Liberty station at 595 Union Avenue in Westbury, our investigators made several visits to that station. Having noted on one such visit that the button on the pump for 88 octane gas -- which was 10 cents more than the 87 octane "Regular" gas - was so worn down that the paint on the face of the button was almost gone, the investigators were suspicious. On a subsequent visit October 30, one investigator was audio and videotaped asking the attendant for "$20 Regular," and then repeating the request for Regular gas. Sure enough, the attendant was then videotaped pushing the "plus/88 octane" button on the pump, rather than the 87 octane "Regular." On November 12 the investigators again visited the Liberty station, again ordered "$20 Regular," and again videotaped the attendant pushing the "plus/88 octane" button before pumping their gas."
The Amoco station has been charged criminally with one count each of Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree and Petit Larceny, both of which are A Misdemeanors. The Liberty station is being charged administratively by the Office of Consumer Affairs. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

"I urge anyone who thinks they have been ripped off by a gas station to contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at (516) 571-2600," said Bogsted. "Gas prices are high enough as it is without consumers being cheated at the pump." Dillon added that his office and Consumer Affairs "will continue to work together aggressively to protect consumers from these deceptive practices."