Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2001

Meiners’ Market, DA reach settlement on Sept. 11 gasoline price increases

October 18, 2001

Although it denies wrongdoing, Meiners' Market reached a settlement with the Johnson County District Attorney's office for gasoline price increases in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that requires it to pay $15,000.

Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison announced the settlement last week. Under the settlement, Meiners' agreed to pay $5,000 to the American Red Cross, $5,000 to Catholic Charities and $5,000 in fees and penalties. The company also agreed to refund all customers presenting receipts for gas purchases at the higher prices.

"Meiners' fully cooperated with our investigation and accepted responsibility for gouging consumers," Morrison said. "We believe the settlement is fair and fully support the $10,000 going to charities. This settlement should send a strong message to every business in Johnson County that this office will not tolerate unconscionable acts, especially in time of crisis."

Four days after the attacks, Morrison filed a civil suit alleging the Meiners' Market stores in De Soto and south Overland Park violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act when they increased gas prices Sept. 11. Similar action was taken against two other Johnson County gas stations.

For an hour on the afternoon of Sept. 11, Meiners' Market in De Soto raised prices on regular unleaded gasoline from $1.69 a gallon to $5.63 a gallon The store apologized the next day and starting offering refunds to customers.

A statement released by Meiners' said the company entered into the settlement because it was "in the best interest of all." But Meiners' also insists "we did not violate the Kansas Consumer Projection Act, and the settlement does not say that we violated the act."

According to the company's statement, the two stations raised prices because of reports wholesale prices were going to increase sharply, and supplies were uncertain. The station returned prices to earlier levels when it learned from its supplier the rumors were false, the statement said.

Morrison said his office has not reached settlements with a Texaco Star Mart at 11019 W. 75th St. in Shawnee and another Texaco Star Mart at 7720 State Line Road in Prairie Village.

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