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ALBANY -- Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sent out more than two dozen letters last week to gas stations in the Hudson Valley, Albany area and the Southern Tier, including New York City, calling on owners to halt what he called "surcharges" for customers using a credit card, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
"These misleading signs and the credit card surcharge both violate New York law," wrote Cuomo.
On Cuomo’s insistence, undercover investigators discovered gas stations were allegedly attracting customers with false advertising, including listing only the lower cash prices on street signs. Cuomo called this practice "bait and switch" as consumers only realized the difference after they paid with credit cards.
Jim Bryon, owner of Patterson Auto Body in Putnam County, told the Poughkeepsie Journal he had to start encouraging customers to use cash because he was realizing at least 12 cents in processing fees from credit card companies on every gallon of gas, however his profit margin was 10 cents. He doesn’t charge credit card users more money, he noted, rather he lowers the price for cash paying customers.
"I was going broke," he told the paper. "And I had to do something."
While Cuomo’s office received complaints from across the state, Long Island was reportedly the area with the highest rate of alleged fraud, with an estimated one-third of gas stations reported.