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July 2, 2010

DiNapoli: Thruway Authority Increases Gas Price Monitoring

Audio  Available

The State Thruway Authority (authority) has cracked down on gas stations that New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli discovered were overcharging motorists, according to a follow-up audit released today. The initial audit was issued in April 2009 and examined gas pricing at Thruway travel plazas.

After the 2009 DiNapoli audit, the authority stepped up its monitoring and identified three Thruway travel plaza operators that overcharged customers more than $16,000 for gas.

“After our audit, some service stations continued to overcharge for gas,” said DiNapoli. “The amounts were small, but even small amounts can make a big difference to businesses and drivers who are frequent travelers on the Thruway. The authority is not taking things lightly; they’ve even recommended a dealer be terminated for intentionally ripping-off customers. Still, more needs to be done to ensure drivers aren’t getting nickel and dimed at the pump.”

The authority contracts with Sunoco and Lehigh to provide gas at the Thruway’s 27 travel plazas. When the authority found out that Sunoco had overcharged customers at its Ardsley, Ramapo and Sloatsburg stations, the authority requested Sunoco terminate the dealer. Instead, Sunoco decided to compensate the public for the overcharges by offering customers a “gas holiday” month during which they only had to pay the absolute average for gas.

Of the 12 audit recommendations made in the original audit, one was not implemented, one is no longer applicable, five were partially implemented and five were fully implemented, including:

  • Inspecting travel plaza fueling stations in a manner that is not easily predictable;
  • Ensuring all approved gas prices comply with pricing restrictions;
  • Adding additional guidelines on price comparison surveys to the Service Area Representative Manual;
  • Resolving any discrepancies identified by the test-surveys; and
  • Comparing actual prices for gas charged on days prior to inspection to the prices allowed per the contract.

The authority has 30 days to respond and address any unresolved issues discussed in this follow-up audit.

Click here for the Comptroller's audio.

Click here for a copy of the follow-up audit.


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