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    States Crack Down on Price Gouging

    Illinois gas stations receive an ultimatum from the Attorney General, and two Shell stations in Georgia agree to payback customers for overcharging.

    CHICAGO -- The Illinois Attorney General's office is making an offer to some 18 gas stations accused of price gouging -- they can either donate $1,000 to the Red Cross or they can choose to go to court, reported Illinois’ WHBF Channel 4 Eyewitness News.

    The Attorney General's office said in the report there is strong evidence against some stations.

    "Stations acted unfairly and took advantage of ordinary consumers in raising the gasoline prices," Susan Ellis, assistant attorney general, told WHBF.

    Representatives for the independent gas stations said they didn't do anything wrong, according to the report.

    In related news, following last month’s fining of 15 Georgia gas stations and convenience stores of up to $10,000 for price gouging, state officials penalized two convenience stores in Bethlehem, Ga. for overcharging customers on fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina, reported the Associated Press

    Bill Cloud, a spokesman for the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs, told the newspaper the stations are Shell Food Mart and Shell Convenience. He said the companies have signed agreements with the Consumer Affairs Office.

    Shell Food Mart's two parent corporations were fined $1,000 each and have agreed to repay customers who have receipts for purchases between 5:45 p.m. Aug. 31 and Sept. 28. Customers have until Jan. 15 to get refunds. The Shell Convenience Store did not have to pay a fine but did agree to offer reimbursement to customers. The reimbursement period ended on Dec. 12.

    Cloud says the Food Mart has to repay customers the difference between a base price set by the Consumer Affairs Office and the price they actually paid for the gas during the month-long period. Customers must have receipts to get reimbursed.

    The Consumer Affairs Office began investigations after Governor Perdue issued an order to control spiraling fuel costs. Some stations posted prices as high as six dollars a gallon, AP reported.

    Most of the fines were for stations in metro Atlanta. The largest fine -- ten-thousand dollars -- was for a station in Adel located in south Georgia, according to AP.

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