Texas AG sues three businesses for alleged Harvey price gauging

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Three Texas businesses are facing lawsuits from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for alleged price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. One of those businesses was a Best Western at the center of an investigation that ended up losing its franchise.

Under Texas law, vendors cannot charge excessively for necessities such as food, water, clothing or fuel. So far the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office received 3,321 price gouging complaints related to Hurricane Harvey.

“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,” Paxton said in a release. “Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”

The first business facing a lawsuit is Robstown Enterprises, Inc., which was doing business as Best Western Tropic Inn. The suit claims the business tripled its normal room rate when Harvey hit.

Two Bains Brothers-owned Texaco gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area allegedly displayed signs with prices in the $3-$4 range but charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31.

Customers at the Chevron-branded Encinal Fuel Stop outside of Laredo were allegedly charged $8.99 and $9.99 per gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31

If businesses are found to have price gouged customers, they may have to pay civil penalties up to $20,000 for each violation, plus an additional amount of up to $250,000 for victims who were older than 65.

Texans who believe they may have been scammed or price-gouged can call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-621-0508, email consumermemergency@oag.texas.gov, or file a complaint online at the attorney general’s website.


Article from KXAN.com

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