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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

District Attorney Jill Ravitch Announces Consumer Protection Settlement

Regarding Shell Gift Cards and Fuel Rewards Cards

Santa Rosa, CA  –  July 25, 2016  –  Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch today announced that Equilon Enterprises LLC, dba Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”), entered into a stipulated judgment to resolve consumer protection and advertising violations related to Shell gift cards and fuel rewards cards. Alameda, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano counties joined Sonoma County in bringing this consumer protection action.  Under the terms of the stipulated judgment, Shell agreed to pay $762,500 in civil penalties, costs, and restitution, and to injunctive provisions to ensure future compliance.

The action was filed in Alameda County.  The complaint alleged that Shell: (1) failed to adequately disclose that certain advertised discounts for using gift cards and fuel rewards cards could not be combined; (2) advertised discounts on gasoline when purchased by a gift card that Shell knew or should have known were not being honored by all stations; (3) failed to redeem gift cards with balances of less than $10 for cash as required by California law; (4) failed to adequately disclose limitations to Shell’s rewards programs; and (5) advertised that certain gift cards could “be used like cash,” when Shell knew or should have known some stations were charging customers the credit price for gasoline when purchasing with a gift card.

District Attorney Ravitch said, “My office is committed to ensuring that California’s consumer protection and advertising laws are followed, both to protect consumers and to create a level playing field for all businesses.”

Shell and its counsel worked cooperatively to implement changes and make additional disclosures, without admitting liability.  The judgment includes an injunction that requires Shell to: implement new technology at stations to address technical limitations that prevented advertised discounts from being combined; more adequately disclose any limitations on advertised discounts; provide increased training materials to help Shell stations address the issues in the complaint; and more prominently notify consumers about their gift card redemption rights and where to call with questions or complaints about Shell gift cards or fuel rewards cards. 

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Contact Information

Joe Langenbahn
Media Coordinator
Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone
Address
600 Administration Drive
Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.466524, -122.726273
 

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