Operations

Minnesota Cracks Down on Low Gas Prices

Posted on June 23, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As the cost of gasoline continues to climb, Minnesota is cracking down on service stations over gas prices.

Prices that are too low, that is!

A law the state adopted in 2001 in an effort to protect small service-station businesses, prohibits gas stations from selling gas without taking a minimum profit. They must charge at least 8 cents per gallon, plus taxes, more than they paid for it.

The Minnesota Commerce Department announced a $70,000 fine against Arkansas-based Murphy Oil for breaking the law at its 10 Minnesota stations, based at Wal-Mart stores and elsewhere. They also fined Kwik Trip Inc. $5,000 for violations at one station in Apple Valley, about 20 miles south of the Twin Cities.

The two are the first fines levied under the law, and were a result of a months-long review of the stations' prices.

“It doesn't feel good,” said Jeremy Haack, store leader at the Apple Valley Kwik Trip. “We try to give a little break to the consumers, and we’re the ones getting fined for it?”

Carol Hockert, director of the department’s weights and measures division, said she receives as many as 100 complaints a week, mostly from competitors convinced neighboring stations aren’t charging enough.

If a station continually sells gasoline for less than what the department knows the wholesaler sold it for, she investigates.

According to AAA, gasoline was about 60 cents higher this Memorial Day weekend than last. The average price of gas in Minnesota is $2.02 per gallon.

The Commerce Department did not release exactly how low the service stations’ prices were. Haack said his station was just a penny or two out of line with local competitors, and that the station ran afoul of the law by following the prices of other Kwik Trips in the region.

Jerry Charmoli, an owner of three Mobil stations in the Twin Cities’ northern suburbs, said the fines show the law is working. He contends that large-volume retailers selling gas below cost could raise prices once they drove competitors out of business.

“Then they're going to charge $2 or $3 dollars a gallon because they're the only ones that are left,” he said.

Hank Heithaus, vice president for retail at Murphy Oil, said the company misinterpreted state law.

“It wasn't intended to violate the Minnesota law, but we felt that, yes, we probably did violate and we'd settle up and move on.”

Wal-Mart Spokesman Dan Fogleman said he couldn’t comment on behalf of Murphy, but said the company opposes minimum-price laws.

“We certainly believe that competition is the best way to assure the lowest possible price for consumers,” he said.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Uber Extends Sexual Harassment Probe

The TNC faces more pressure over the results of its review, particularly after the scandal that ousted Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. 

 

Only 4% Of Uber Drivers Stay A Year Or More

Retention is an even worse problem for the TNC than for the taxi and limo industries.

New Jersey Operators Are Perfect Mix Of Old And New

eNews Exclusive: The co-owners of First Choice Limousine play to their strengths to create a blend of traditional customer service with an understanding of the Millennial mentality.

Pot Party Bus Operator's Revenues Surge 66% In Past Year

Colorado Cannabis Tours takes around 200 people each weekend in the marijuana "Napa Valley" of the U.S.

Uber Officially Lost $2.8 Billion In 2016

In the fourth quarter, the TNC both increased its bookings and upped its losses, according to a recent report.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

Submit

Blog

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - April 2017 $12.95 F&I / SPECIAL EVENTS ISSUE COVER STORY: * Don't Panic: Confronting Worst Fears - Fleet Risks * *



Connect

Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close