SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office has announced that Shell Oil Company agreed to a settlement to resolve consumer protection and false advertising violation, agreeing to pay $762,500 in civil penalties, cost, and restitution. They have also agreed to certain provisions to ensure future compliance and avoid further mishaps.
Santa Cruz County was one of several California counties developing a task force to conduct an investigation into Shell’s alleged dealings with gift cards and fuel rewards cards. The task force then filed a class action lawsuit against the fuel giant in an Alameda County Court.
The suit alleged that:
- Shell failed to adequately disclose that certain advertised discounts for using gift cards and fuel rewards could not be combined.
- Advertised discounts on gasoline purchased by gift cards were not being honored by all Shell stations.
- There had been failure to redeem gift cards with a balance for less than $10 for cash as required by California law.
- Shell failed to disclose limitations to their rewards program.
- The company falsely advertised that certain gift cards could be “used as cash” even though some customers were being charged credit card rates when using their gift cards.
“[Our] office is committed to ensuring that California’s consumer protection and false advertising laws are followed both to protect consumers and create a level playing field for all businesses,” Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell wrote in a press release.
Shell’s counsel, although denying liability, worked to implement changes in processing transactions and additional disclosures in the wake of the allegations.
(Editor’s Note: This story has also been covered by fellow CrimeVoice contributor Amy Nilson, who operates out of Santa Clara County. Her story can be read here.)