Tennessee officials promise to go after price gougers

Complaints of high gas prices and gouging have gotten the attention of Tennessee officials. Now, they are vowing to go after retailers who illegally raise pump prices.

The phones keep ringing and ringing.

The State Department of Commerce and Insurance said it has received more than 750 price gouging complaints statewide.

Complaints that are not just coming from consumers.

Gas station owner Steve Heath also filed a complaint with the state.

He claims he was forced to raise prices when an independent supplier suddenly raised its prices.

"Do I think a 1.60 at one time is a gouge? Yes.  Is there anything that can be done about it?  Not really," consumer Steve Heath said.

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said the state is looking into whether the spike in gasoline prices across the state is the result of price-gouging or a reasonable reaction to supply disruptions.

According to the Attorney General's Office, only one gas station has been fined for price gouging since Hurricane Katrina.

The Top Market in Chattanooga had to pay about $2,000.

A LaQuinta Motel in Memphis had to pay more than $14,000 in 2006 after prosecutors said it raised it's prices for Hurricane victims.

It's cases like these that leave many people wondering just how many complaints actually result in prosecution.

"As the attorney general said in his press release, it won't be tolerated.  And I take the attorney general at his word," director of Tennessee Consumer Affairs Mary Clement said.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office would not comment on the investigations.  But the state's office of consumer affairs said all of the complaints are forwarded on to the attorney general's office to be investigated.

If you suspect gas gouging and want to report it to the state you can call the division of consumer affairs at 1-800-342-8385.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.