Price gouging investigation leads to 40 hotel refunds

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – As Hurricane Harvey pounded the Texas coast Friday and Saturday night, thousands of people evacuated, sending many to hotels and shelters.

And, for some, they sought refuge in the path of more trouble.

Saturday, a KXAN crew booked a room at the Best Western Plus in Robstown, a small town 20 miles west of Corpus Christi. An internet search showed room rates for a two queen bed priced between $120 and $149 a night. But, when it came time to book the room at the hotel’s counter, that price nearly tripled.

“What’s the total going to be?” reporter Wes Rapaport asked the hotel clerk. “$321.89,” the clerk responded.

A few minutes of questioning ensued about why the price nearly tripled. In a video recorded conversation, the clerk admits the $289 room rates are not what the hotel normally charges.

“Weekends start at $149, sometimes we start at $189,” the clerk tells the KXAN crew. “But, why is it so much?” Rapaport asked. “Because people are calling to take rooms, we need to (inaudible) the price. I don’t have any control on the price,” the clerk responded.

The next morning, Rapaport and his photographer confronted the hotel’s clerk about the charges, asking for a manager. The clerk told the KXAN crew there was no manager available. The clerk is seen on the video checking the room rate on the computer.

“Yeah, that was your rate — $289,” the clerk confirmed. “What’s it normally?” Rapaport asked. “Uh, I’m not aware. I’m not sure,” the clerk responded.


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