Over the past month, America has been struck by two major natural disasters in the form of violent hurricanes. While the southern states battled too much water, the midwest and north battled dozens of devastating wildfires. In general, the country has come together to support those affected. However, there are also the unscrupulous and greedy individuals who see these tragedies as mere opportunity.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Harvey hitting land, prices for supplies had started to rise. It is not unusual to see that happen and whether a modest increase is justified or not is another question. As the availability of essentials such as food, water, gas, and places to stay decreased, it was time for the truly cruel to strike and the price gouging began. Texas officials are extremely angry and are demanding action. Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken the call and filed lawsuits against three Texas businesses for the dirty practice.
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) August 25, 2017
It isn’t as if they weren’t warned. When pictures and stories first emerged of scammers charging $42 for cases of water and similar stories, officials in the state told businesses not to take advantage of the incoming hurricane. Sadly, some just didn’t listen.
Attorney General Paxton spoke to reporters about the lawsuits;
“It’s unconscionable that any business would take advantage of Texans at their most vulnerable – those who are displaced from their homes, have limited resources, and are in desperate need of fuel, shelter and the basic necessities of life. Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”
Texas law does provide for these times of emergency. Legislature prohibits “overpricing necessities such as drinking water, food, clothing, and fuel during a declared disaster.”
AG Paxton’s lawsuit currently names three businesses;
Best Western Plus Tropic Inn – The hotel reportedly charged three times their normal rate the weekend that Harvey hit.
Bains Brothers – This company owns a chain of Texaco-brand gas stations. Despite signs that their gas was $3-$4 a gallon, two of the stations in the Dallas area were charging $6.99 a gallon.
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) August 26, 2017
Encinal Fuel Stop – This gas station sells Chevron gas and was reportedly charging $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon on August 31.
AG Paxton says that consumers who believe they were victims of price gouging by these companies or other should contact his office.