Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

Meet DA Nancy E. O'Malley

DA O’Malley Announces Consumer Protection Settlement with Shell

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today announced that Equilon Enterprises LLC, dba Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”), entered into a stipulated judgment to resolve consumer protection and misleading advertising violations related to Shell gift cards and fuel rewards cards. Counties of Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma joined Alameda 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 terms 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.

“My office is committed to ensuring that California’s consumer protection and false advertising laws are followed,” says DA O’Malley. “It is vital that we work to protect consumers and 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 of fuel rewards cards.

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Posted on Jul 25, 2016