Following accusations by a resident about price gouging at a gas station in Mineola, the owner of the neighboring auto repair shop sought to dispel those charges.
Speaking at the December 12 meeting of the Mineola Village Board, Mike Marakopoulos, owner/operator of the Olympus Auto Repair, stated that he had received text messages and e-mails from customers following a board meeting on December 5 at which Emory Road resident Bill Urianek presented a photo of one of the gas pumps at the Pro-Trac Service Station showing reportedly relatively higher than normal prices for gasoline.
Urianek’s photo showed the pump was charging $4.89 for regular gas, $4.49 for mid-grade and $4.59 for premium.
“Everybody knows that regular is always cheaper,” Marakopoulos said. “When I got these emails yesterday, these texts by my customers, it really upset me that people would think that we would do that.”
Olympus Auto Repair is not affiliated with the gas station itself, yet Marakopoulos felt compelled to address the allegations publicly.
“We’ve been in the neighborhood for a good 20 years, we’ve done a lot for the neighborhood for the auxiliary police department and the fire departments and we supported the boy scouts of Mineola and the last thing that I want in this desperate time of need with the tragedy that we had with the Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “A lot of people were left with nothing and we would never, ever do anything to take advantage of the fact that price gouge, 10 cents or whatever it was, 50 cents on the gallon.”
Displaying a sign from the top of the gas pump which comes pre-printed from the factory “with a one on the front and eight 8’s,” Marakopoulos said of the numbers in the photo that “it could have been a mistake or maybe somebody could have taken off the magnet and showed it as an eight. It looks like somebody could have taken off the magnetic sticker off of the price sign.”
He went on to say that he also gave out food in the Rockaways from an organic hamburger business that he owns.
Marakopoulos pointed to another spot on the photo showing the pump’s digital readout with a charge of $108.25 after pumping 25.18 gallons, which comes to $4.29 per gallon. At the December 5 meeting, Urianek stated that he had taken the photo on the Saturday following the storm. A person answering the phone at the repair shop after the December 5 meeting indicated that the price being charged during that time was $4.19 for regular.
The owner/operator of the gas station did not address the board or the public at the meeting.
Mayor Scott Strauss thanked Marakopoulos “for your commitment to the community and your service to the village, not only to the residents but the business community and I appreciate the long-standing business that you’ve had.”
The Mineola Village Board does not handle price gouging issues. Complaints about price gouging can be made to the New York State Attorney General via the web or by phone by calling 800-771-7755 or logging on to the website to make a complaint.