The Business Council of New York State has reviewed the above mentioned legislation and opposes its enactment.
The bill would amend the general business law by prohibiting the establishment of zone pricing of gasoline. The bill assumes that prices set according to zones are arbitrarily based on what companies assume consumers are likely to pay or where the effect is to injure competition. In essence, the bill's intent is to subvert market pricing that allows the flexibility to compete.
Zone or market based pricing is based on the reality that competition is locally driven. It varies from market to market and fluctuates over periods of time. Zone pricing allows local sellers to compete based on the conditions within their local markets. These marketers are driven by the competition they face and the reactions of consumers. It is this market based pricing that allows the gasoline industry to compete.
It should be noted that there are a number of businesses that use such methods to establish pricing and it is not unique to the petroleum and gasoline industry. Many businesses sell products at different prices in different markets depending on local competitive conditions. The regulation of one segment of the free market would be an over-arching interference by the Legislature. The intrusiveness of eliminating zone pricing on one market could lead to the creation of additional government restrictions on pricing for other industries. There are currently no other legislative restrictions on zone pricing regulations, for any industry, or any product, anywhere in the country.
This bill creates a new right of action, allowing wholesalers and dealers to enforce against zone or market base pricing.
The bill memo states that this legislation is needed to address issues associated with price gouging. We believe existing law, Section 396-R of the General Business Law, is adequate and appropriate. It addresses "price gouging" and gives enforcement authority to the state's Attorney General. It allows for injunctive relief, civil penalty up to $25,000 (the maximum civil penalty was increased from $10,000 just last session) as well as court-ordered restitution to aggrieved consumers.
For the above mentioned reasons The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes the above legislation.