Stores Respond To Price Gouging During Hurricane Harvey

August 31, 2017

Tropical depression Hurricane Harvey continues to move up deep south towards Mississippi and Tennessee as Texas and Louisiana residents begin the cleanup. As communities and towns call out for help, calls to the Texas Attorney general are flooding in with hundreds of reports of price gouging. Although price gouging is illegal, it doesn't stop store owners and employees from jacking up the price of necessities during a natural disaster.  A Best Western Hotel west of Corpus Christi, Texas, was accused of nearly tripling room rates as the storm closed in on the area. A local TV station investigation team says an Internet search of the hotel shows the room rates for two queen beds priced from $120-$149, but when crews check out from one night their bill was $321. Another report from a customer claims a Raceway convenience store allegedly charged her nearly $70 for two cases of beer. A Best Buy store in Houston has gained the most attention with pictures showing cases of bottled water being sold for $42. 

Representatives were quick to respond to the accusations of price gouging, with Best Western terminating their relationship with the hotel near Corpus Christi, RaceWay officials say it was clerical error for the higher than normal beer purchase and Best Buy says the $99 case of water was also an error as store managers and employees used the normal single purchase price of water bottles.  Texas gouging laws means stores could be fined as much as $20,000.

Florida's price gouging statues compares the reported gouged price during a state of emergency with the price over the last 30 days to see if there is a "gross disparity" with fines of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations.

SOURCE: Gizmodo & ABC News

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