Whit­bourne Ul­tra­mar of­fer­ing re­funds for over­charg­ing

PUB de­scribes in­ci­dent as ‘ap­par­ent hon­est mis­take’

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS

Mo­torists who pur­chased reg­u­lar un­leaded gaso­line at Moor­lands Ul­tra­mar in Whit­bourne be­tween Jan. 3-5 paid two cents above the max­i­mum price es­tab­lished by the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board, and are be­ing en­cour­aged to seek a re­fund.

Another fuel sup­plier con­tacted the board to point out the er­ror in pric­ing, prompt­ing an in­quiry, said Robert Byrne, the di­rec­tor of reg­u­la­tory and ad­vi­sory ser­vices with the board.

It was de­ter­mined the sta­tion, lo­cated along the Trans-Canada High­way, was charg­ing $1.38.5 per litre, while the max­i­mum price es­tab­lished by the board was $1.36.5.

The board di­rected that a pub­lic no­tice be posted at the main en­trance to the busi­ness, ad­vis­ing of the price over­charge, and that re­funds were avail­able.

The no­tice will stay in place for three weeks, said Byrne.

“It was not goug­ing,” said Byrne. “It ap­pears that the printed sched­ule faxed to the busi­ness was mis­read.

“It was an ap­par­ent hon­est mis­take.”

He said the prices be­ing charged for other types of fu­els at the sta­tion were in ac­cor­dance with the board’s sched­ule of pric­ing.

Byrne would not re­lease de­tails about the amount of gaso­line sold at the higher price, but noted that sit­u­a­tion was mit­i­gated by the fact that a provincewide power out­age im­pacted op­er­a­tions at the busi­ness for most of Satur­day.

“So re­ally, it was most of Fri­day and half of Sun­day,” he ex­plained.

Byrne said such a cir­cum­stance is quite rare. Since the PUB be­came re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing fair­ness in the mar­ket­ing of petroleum prod­ucts through­out the prov­ince in 2004, he re­calls only two or three sim­i­lar in­ci­dents.

He also em­pha­sized, “this is the only in­quiry we’ve had for the en­tirety of the prov­ince re­lat­ing to price over­charge” dur­ing re­cent days, and “re­ports to the con­trary have not been brought to our at­ten­tion.”

He added: “If any­one feels they have been over­charged, their first av­enue is to go to re­tailer to con­firm that price was in ex­cess, and they should ask for a re­fund. If the sit­u­a­tion is more wide­spread, we will deal with it on a case-by-case ba­sis.”

The owner of Moor­lands, Roz Har­wood, said there was no in­ten­tion to gouge cus­tomers, and ex­plained that the sched­ule of prices faxed to the busi­ness caused the con- fu­sion.

She said the “6” in the price for reg­u­lar gaso­line looked like an “8.”

“We are not try­ing to rip any­body off. We’ve been up there for years. Peo­ple know us,” said Har­wood.

She de­scribed some of the re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia as “very hurt­ful.”

Up to late last week, she said only one cus­tomer had re­turned, look­ing for a re­fund.

In all, she es­ti­mates the busi­ness sold just over 17,000 litres at the higher price, mostly on Fri­day, Jan. 3 as peo­ple pre­pared for the on­com­ing win­ter storm.

“It was a mis­take,” she added. “We did not mean to hurt any­body.”

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