The agreement reached between the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) and the gas wholesaler, Empire Gas, which reverts the price of the product to its value of last December -95 cents of profit margin per gallon- and Settling a fine for violation of the agency's regulations for $ 25,000, leaves consumers with impunity who during all that time bought the gas at a higher price.
This lawsuit, which has not yet been completed by the other wholesaler, Tropigas -importer of 25% of current demand-, has been litigating in the agency for seven months, which represents a significant profit to wholesalers who are estimated to sell 6.7 million gallons monthly. That gallonage was sold throughout that time period with an additional 24 cents of profit margins per gallon, representing revenues of $ 1.6 million, however, so far, the fine has only reached about $ 25,000. However, all consumers who paid an additional $ 5.00 to $ 12.00, according to the gas cylinder purchased -100 pounds or 20 pounds- do not recover the excess charge unless they file a complaint with the DACO.
Carmen Salgado, The agency's secretary, in an interview with EL VOCERO, accepted that the agreement entered into between the parties does not contemplate any action for the consumer, beyond the return of the effective price in December, which means a decrease of about $ 10 in the 100-pound cylinders. . However, he clarified that he always asked consumers to file their complaints in this regard, which would have become part of the case and based on this stipulate rules, regulations, resolutions or remedies, but never – during that period – received complaints. "What would be up to the consumer in this process, certainly is not agreed on the resolved matter. That consumer who wishes, can still file their complaint, it is investigated and particularly attended to. We always exhort consumers to complain, in order to ensure their best interests. ”
The DACO investigation against gas wholesalers, -Empire Gas and Tropigas-, responds to the breach of order 2014-006, which prohibits the entry into force of the rise in gas prices without prior notice to the agency.
Regarding Tropigas, although Salgado acknowledged the possibility of reaching a similar agreement, he assured that, if it did not materialize, during the first week of August They will hold a face-to-face hearing between all the parties. “In the same, each party must present all the evidence in its possession to finally determine the action to follow to complete the process.”
It is estimated that consumer prices now figure, after the recent ruling, among $ 15 the 20-pound cylinder and between $ 70 to $ 75 for the 100-gallon cylinder.
The VOCERO learned of the rise, after having interviewed on December 12 Ramón González, president of Empire Gas —a company that imports 75% of the current demand, equivalent to about 60 million gallons per year—, who alleged that the increase had nothing to do with the significant market penetration of his company, but that for years liquefied gas was being sold below cost, a product of the strong existing competition.