Price gouging in a disaster situation
There is a difference between opportunity and taking advantage of a situation. With the latter being illegal in the state of Texas.
The state of Texas is currently under a disaster proclamation. Texas State law prohibits a person or business from unreasonably raising the cost of necessary supplies at any point during a declared disaster.
Case in point, price gouging is illegal. To date there have been 225 cases reported to the office of the Attorney General.
The Office of the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging after a disaster has been declared by the governor or president.
17.46(b) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act provides that it is a false, misleading or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418, Government Code, or the President by:
Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price or by demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity.
High prices alone do not mean that price gouging has taken place. Businesses can determine the prices for their products. However, if a disaster has been declared by the Governor of Texas or the President, and then the businesses raises the price of their products to excessive rates taking advantage of the disaster declaration, then it’s likely that price gouging has taken place.
Texans who believe they have encountered price gouging can call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508.
Under state law, those found to be taking financial advantage of the Coronavirus emergency could be forced to reimburse customers and can be sued for up to $10,000 per violation, with the penalty jumping to $250,000 if elderly customers were targeted, Attorney General Ken Paxton said.
Once again, any citizen who believes they have encountered price gouging can call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online.
Written by Wendy Van Den Boogerd, Content Writer / Blogger