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Charlotte gas station that charged $9.99/gallon during pipeline shutdown sued for price gouging

Queen's Market in north Charlotte is being sued by North Carolina's attorney general for gouging customers during the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina's attorney general is suing a Charlotte gas station for price gouging during the Colonial Pipeline shutdown in May, alleging the store charged up to $9.99 a gallon

The Mobil gas station on West Sugar Creek Road, just off Interstate 85, known as Queen's Market, is accused of violating North Carolina's price gouging law during the state of emergency when the Colonial Pipeline was shut down during a ransomware attack. WCNC Charlotte reported on this situation on May 13, when a truck driver said she paid $90 to fill her personal car at Queen's Market.

The lawsuit alleges Queen's Market raised its price of regular to $3.19 per gallon, which was a 19% increase. The store is also accused of raising its price for mid-grade and premium to $9.99 a gallon each,  even though they had no actual fuel cost increases. 

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"This gas station wildly overpriced their gas prices to take advantage of the pipeline shutdown and people's desperation to get gas," Attorney General Josh Stein said. "It's against the law for businesses to take advantage of a state of emergency to exploit their customers. I'll do everything in my power to hold price gougers accountable."

RELATED: Verify: Yes, NC did see a rise in price gouging complaints during the Colonial Pipeline Shutdown

Truck driver Clarissa Rankin was among the people who were overcharged by the store. Rankin said it cost her $90 to fill up her personal car at $9.99 a gallon for mid-grade. The North Carolina Department of Justice told WCNC Charlotte in May they received at least six complaints about that specific store. 

Rankin says news of the lawsuit was good to hear.

“I was very surprised but also very excited to know that my voice was being heard when wrongdoing has occurred," Rankin said. “Hopefully with this lawsuit it sets an example and sets a message to all business owners that during a crisis, during a shutdown, during a pandemic it’s not made to get a quick buck.”

The owner of the store claimed it was a misunderstanding, saying the prices were meant to deter people from using mid-grade or premium gas to avoid the risk of drying out his tanks. Patel told WCNC Charlotte he was offering refunds to customers who kept their receipts. Rankin adds she was given about a $50 refund. 

So far the gas station owners have not commented in response to the lawsuit.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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