Record gas prices prompt deception concerns

From consumers to businesses, the pinch at the pump is getting more painful. There appears to be no immediate end in sight for rising gas prices.

According to AAA, the national average for regular unleaded gas is holding just under $4 at $3.97 per gallon. The energy department's average is a penny higher at $3.98.

In Illinois, the average jumps to $4.13 per gallon.

And in Chicago, the average is now $4.22 per gallon.

"Insane, I was saying, last weekend I went to Wisconsin and I had to spend $220 just to get there and back, in gas," said Sara Decorah, driver.

"The cost for actually getting to and from work has doubled. It's just not going to stop," said driver Tommy Pavletic.

Commissioner of Human Services Norma Reyes says gas complaints are up about 20 percent from last year.

"People say there is gas gouging going on," Reyes said. "There is one price advertised and another price being charged. What we do when we investigate a case, we see the number of complaints we have received and see if the place has a history. If it has a history of this type of behavior, then they would subject themselves to higher fines and even revocation of their business licenses."

At the Shell gas station on North Avenue, regular is going for $4.49 a gallon and premium is going for $4.69. It is the same at the BP station down the street at LaSalle and North Ave.

"To save 10 cents on the gallon I am choosing the middle premium grade of gas at this point to save on the expense wherever I can," said driver Andy Singer.

With gasoline prices climbing across the country, John Challenger, the CEO of the original Outplacement Company, said corporate America is having to rethink money-saving measures.

"Companies are taking actions. It might mean reducing to a four-day work week, having more workers telecommute to work," he said. "Companies are having their people come to them saying, would you give us some way to not have to go all the way downtown or cross town and pay that gas?"

"I think the gas companies are gouging us and taking all the profits, and I think it is terrible," said driver Jerry Majic.

Consumer complaints over gas prices are also up. The city has started a gas-price hotline to crack down on deceptive gas station. The number is (312) 742-4427 or (312) 742-4GAS

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