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WHITING, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general's office on Wednesday opened an investigation to ensure BP quickly responds to consumers' complaints about vehicles damaged by contaminated gasoline that was distributed from storage terminals in Whiting and Milwaukee.
"We are closely monitoring the response by BP and will be reviewing their claims and reimbursement processes," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. "As the watchdog for Indiana consumers my office has a duty to ensure consumer's rights are protected and that there is no undue delay in appropriate reimbursements."
BP announced Monday it was recalling 2.1 million gallons of regular grade because it contained a higher level of a residue, which could prevent vehicles from starting, make it hard to start engines, cause the engine to shake or cause the check engine light to turn on.
BP estimates about 200 gas stations in northwest Indiana and the Chicago area and another 20 in the Milwaukee area received the tainted gas. BP said in a release Wednesday it is continuing to contact retailers who may have received tainted gasoline.
The investigation by the attorney general's office is in response to consumers' calls, said Erin Reese, a spokeswoman for Zoeller. She said the volume of the number of people who could be affected was another reason the attorney general's office is getting involved.
The Times of Munster reported that some people calling the BP customer service line on Tuesday were on hold for two hours. Others said BP was making it difficult for them to receive compensation.
BP spokesman Scott Dean says the company will cooperate with the investigation. He said BP began adding staffers to the customer service lines as more than 5,000 people contacted BP on Tuesday and another 2,000 contacted BP Wednesday.
"We're seeing reduced hold times now," he said.
The company also added a second toll-free number for people to call. He also said BP would stand behind its guarantee of reimbursing customers for fuel-related repairs. He said BP will work to process claims as quickly as possible. He said people should save sales receipt from when they bought the gasoline and a copy of repair bills, saying it will help with the process.
He said BP will work with people who don't have receipts, although he said those might take longer.
"We're going to try to work with people no matter what the circumstances are," he said.
BP asks customers who believe their vehicles were damaged by tainted gasoline to call their hotlines at 1-800-333-3991 or 1-800-599-9040 or to submit an online inquiry at www.bpresponse.com. Consumers can also file a separate complaint with the attorney general's office by visiting www.indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516 to request a hard copy of the form.