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Gas Pains in Kings Park Didn't Include Gouging

Owners say prices in the area were in line with demand.

New Yorkers scrambling for gas in the days after Sandy may have received some sticker shock when seeing the price at the pump, prompting some to request investigations into price gouging. But local owners explain that a change in price doesn’t necessarily mean the consumer is being taken advantage of.

“I didn’t see any gouging,’ said Eddie Piotrowski, owner of Eddie's Service Center in Kings Park.

“I heard about it and I read about it. I had some people say that I was gouging, but with the storm, there were other factors to take into account when pricing.”

Piotrowski said he sets his price based off what his distributor is charging him per gallon. Then he takes into account his overhead and a small profit before he sets his price. In the days after Sandy, Piotrowski said factors like availability and extra costs paid to tanker drivers who sat on long lines to fill up added to the cost reflected at the pump.

“The average consumer doesn’t see that and when they see the price jump, there’s a cost involved,” said Piotrowski

According to him, gas prices ranged from $4.25 to $4.49 and set his price at $4.29 in the week or so after Sandy.

On Thursday, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, sent a letter to 13 stations, saying he planned to start "enforcement proceedings" against them for violating the state's price-gouging law. Of the 13, four were on Long Island, though none were in the Smithtown area.

John La Salle, owner of Kings Park Car Care Center said the rationing came too late, but is glad the worse is over.

“Everybody was fighting, everybody ran out of patience. We should have put it in when New Jersey did. It helped them right away.”

La Salle said he sets his price based off of what he is paying.

“We go off of a percentage to set the price, “ he said. "The prices were definitely higher after Sandy. I was putting super in my regular tanks just to stay open. I raised up accordingly. I raised my regular price.” LaSalle said he doesn't recall his highest price after Sandy. Gas on Friday afternoon was $3.85 at his station.

While gouging may have brought out the worst in some owners, it also brought out the best.

Customers we spoke with last week praised North Country Gas in St. James for their ability to stay largely open after the storm and for their willingness to help customers.

"This guy has given handshake credits," said Scott Siebert, about station owner Brian Barton. "They pushed cars that ran out of gas while waiting on line into the station. This guy is a benefactor to the community."

Stevo November 16, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Hey Eddie, why didn't Hess raise their prices?
Tina S. November 17, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Hess was charging $3.77 per gallon while Valero was charging $4.35 and it was cash only......every other station was only getting regular gas but Valero was the only one getting Super? Not buying it! When you take advantage of a bad situation on your community (along with another store in town that raised it's prices), I'd rather take my business elsewhere. I will NEVER do business with either of these places again.....and neither should you.
Scott Ray November 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
You are exactly right, Tina. Valero was way out of line with other stations. I think it's hysterical that this article interviewed just the owners in regard to price gouging. What do you think they would say? Hess held firm at 3.77 during that 2 week period. Very commendable.
valeroshermaro November 18, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Valero charged $4.35 duurring the worst of sandy, 8 days later I waited on the line that wrapped around lou ave, after 1.5 hoours I got up to the pump and there was one price listed on a piece of cardboard, $4 galllon. That's all it saiid so I assume it was regular. There were also big cardboard bulletens in valeros front window that said generators for sale full of gas off premisse, inquire withiin. Remember this was 8 days after sandy so imagine how manny were sold the first week, and john still had more. I can't even imagine the prices he charged. Off topic but important once in a while I used to buy my smokes from there that I always noticed were stail and tasted old.. so I stopped, assuming it was just me.. Then a year later my girlfriend got her ciggs there (a differnt brand) and sure enouf she came home and complained that they were stail and didn't taste right. This was years back when the indian res sold all the popular brands. I don't know were they came from, maybie online but I do know I got old ciggs sold to me many times from valero (station was called something else back then) the only time I returned was to get gas recently and it looks like nothing changed, same old ripoffs. I always told everyone to steer clear for gas, cigs and auto repair, ugh that's another story in itself
frank Jones December 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Glad i am not the only one that feels this way. John is a rip off and i will never do business with him again. I called bbb to report him based on the fact hess never changed their price. If john wants to open his books and prove it i may do business again. Lastly what business owner does not recall his selling price lol what a joke

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