TAMPA (FOX 13) - It was a gas-hedging website that promised customers they could buy gas when prices were low and redeem those gallons when prices went higher.
Many bought into the MyGallons.com plan. But, after a couple of years, the website vanished. Customers contacted us worried that wherever the company went, their money went with it.
February 6, David Stanton of Sarasota called about a problem with his MyGallons.com account. Over a period of two years, he'd bought 1,700 gallons of fuel through the gas hedging website.
"I'm angry. I feel like I've been scammed," Stanton said. "We are talking about $3,400. That's a lot of money."
Since our story aired last week, we heard from people around the country saying MyGallons owes them hundreds or thousands of dollars. Mridal Rahman, who lives in Texas, says he's owed more than $12,000.
"It hurts," Rahman said. "It hurts a lot."
He said it wasn't always bad business. "To their credit, when they first came out, they did send one or two checks," Rahman said. "I would just try it out, I said hey, I pumped 'x' amount of gallons, and they honored it."
But, as a business owner himself, he'd had it when the company and its founder Steven Verona went MIA.
"He needs to be exposed for using a lot of goodwill and publicity that was generated and to really unnecessarily going silent and making a lot of us upset and feeling like we were duped."
Our repeated attempts to reach Verona for the past week were unsuccessful until this e-mail came Monday night from MyGallons:
"IMPORTANT NOTICE - We launched MyGallons 10 years ago to provide consumers protection from rising gas prices. We knew there would be challenges along the way, as with any business, but we did not anticipate the level of attacks that we have had to endure. As they say, when you step on big toes there is a big price to pay.
It started with the well documented problem with US Bank that resulted in a 6+ year legal battle as we fought for our survival and our reputation. We won the battle, but it was extremely costly in both time and money. We also dealt with challenges from several government entities arising from the US Bank issue, prevailing each and every time. While those problems were resolved years ago, there have been perpetual problems with individuals trying to defraud the company and a few internet attacks as well.
We have always believed that it was important to offer our service since the government refuses to regulate the price of gas in a fashion similar to other utilities like water and electricity. This belief served as motivation for the past 10 years, but when the most recent acquisition talks broke down we had to question how much longer we could continue fighting this battle. The decision was made at that time to suspend all new fuel purchases while we contemplated the future. Following another attempt to defraud the company, we temporarily suspended normal operations while we assessed the entire situation.
We are frustrated, sad, and disappointed that after 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears the decision was made to end the MyGallons Program and wind down the business. Moving forward we will audit all accounts to verify gallon balances, calculate refund rates, sell assets, and distribute funds to customers based on the account audits.
We are not able to respond to support emails during this time. Once the account audits are completed we will contact customers by email with the results. We anticipate opening email support again at that time to address questions and assist in the processing of refunds.
Thank you for your support, patience, and understanding."
State Attorney General Pam Bondi's office tells us they're currently reviewing complaints about MyGallons. However, we were told the nature of the complaints and amount of complaints are exempt from public disclosure pursuant to Florida Statutes, Section 517.2015.
The Better Business Bureau, which gives the company an 'F' rating, has 33 complaints on file, 14 of which have gone unanswered. The BBB works as a neutral third party, contacting companies in hopes of resolving customer issues. When companies do not respond, it impacts their letter rating. The BBB said they had also not been able to reach Verona in attempts to resolve customer complaints.
"The consumers here are being the hero," said Bryan Oglesby, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau, West Florida. "They are creating a track record of this company so even if they don't receive a refund or receive resolution, their complaint is on record and that helps the next consumer that may do business with the company."
Rahman said that while he's thankful to get some answers from MyGallons, he'll believe it once they contact him and issue the refund.
"I feel like they didn't do the golden rule," Rahman said. "They didn't give me the same benefit as a consumer I gave them as a business. Crises happen in life, bad things happen in life, but, how you choose to deal with it says enormous things."