Ind Attorney General Greg Zoeller
The Indiana Attorney General's office reports having received 23 consumer complaints since December 16th related to the current propane shortage, 21 of them concerning high prices. Governor Mike Pence has declared an energy emergency in response to the shortage, and that authorizes Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office to investigate consumer claims of price gouging and if violations are found, to seek restitution and civil penalties.
“In the majority of instances, propane prices are being driven by substantial market forces. However, this emergency authority allows my office to thoroughly investigate price gouging complaints to determine if any violations exist,” Zoeller said. “If there is any evidence of consumers being taken advantage of during these already difficult times, my office will take action. Hoosiers should also know that we will continue to closely monitor the price of propane sold at all levels of the market.”
Under Indiana law (IC 4-6-9.1), price gouging occurs when a consumer is charged an “unconscionable amount” for the sale of fuel. For example, if the amount charged grossly exceeds the average price of fuel during the seven days before the emergency was declared or if the amount is not attributable to cost factors to the retailer, according to a statement from Zoeller's office.
Hoosiers who want to report suspected price gouging can call the Attorney General’s Office hotline toll-free at 1-866-241-9753 or visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com.