Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING HOLDS GAS STATION ACCOUNTABLE FOR PRICE GOUGING
~ Henrico-based RIR Mart Exxon allegedly charged unconscionable prices on gasoline during Colonial Pipeline emergency ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that he is holding Henrico-based Saly Inc. d/b/a RIR Mart Exxon for alleged violations of the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act. The settlement relates to allegations that the gas station charged unconscionable prices on gasoline, a necessary good, after a state of emergency was declared on May 11, 2021 in response to temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies motor fuels and other petroleum-based products to a large portion of the east coast. Attorney General Herring has taken one other enforcement action regarding price gouging following the Colonial Pipeline state of emergency declaration, in addition to two enforcement actions against price gouging this year in relation to the state of emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Unfortunately, bad actors will take advantage of natural disasters or other times of crisis and increase prices on necessary goods just to line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Herring. "Virginians should never have to worry about whether they are paying a fair price for something they need, but especially during a state of emergency. My Consumer Protection Section and I will continue to pursue instances of price gouging in Virginia and hold those who take advantage of consumers accountable.”
Attorney General Herring's complaint alleges that, on May 9 and 10, the gas station was charging $3.49 per gallon for premium unleaded fuel. Then, in the evening of May 11, immediately after the state of emergency was declared, the business elevated its prices to $4.499 per gallon, an increase of nearly 29%. A violation of Virginia's price gouging law is also a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, RIR Mart Exxon agrees to be enjoined from engaging in further violations of Virginia's price gouging law and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The business also has agreed to pay $2,500 in civil penalties and attorneys' fees, and also has disgorged more than $300 in excess profits made from the offending sales. Consumers who purchased premium unleaded gasoline from RIR Mart Exxon on May 11, 2021 should file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section to be considered for reimbursement of excess charges they paid.
The settlement, in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, has been filed for approval with the Henrico County Circuit Court.
During Governor Northam's state of emergency that was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Attorney General's Office received more than 500 complaints and e-mails alleging possible price gouging activity and sent more than 150 investigative letters to businesses. Investigation of these complaints largely revealed that many price increases occurred further up the supply chain with manufacturers or distributors that were beyond the reach of the state's price gouging laws, and this prompted Attorney General Herring to successfully seek amendments to the state's price gouging law during the 2020 General Assembly special session.
Additionally, in April 2020, Attorney General Herring led a national effort to address price gouging in the PPE supply chain, urging 3M as one of the largest manufacturers of PPE, particularly masks, to do more to address price gouging within its supply and distribution chains that was causing hospitals and healthcare providers to pay exorbitant prices for PPE.
If a Virginia consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging, they can call the Consumer Protection Hotline or download a complaint form from the Attorney General's website and submit it in-person, by mail, or by fax. Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint. If consumers believe they are a victim of price gouging specific to motor fuel they should file complaints with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section for information or to file a complaint:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- By email:
- Online Contact Form/Online Complaint Form
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