State Sues Three Texas Businesses Accused of Price Gouging During Hurricane Harvey
Texas law prohibits businesses from jacking up their prices for necessities like water, food, clothing, and fuel during a declared disaster, and the State did not waste any time going after businesses accused of price gouging customers during Hurricane Harvey.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced in a press release Tuesday that the state has filed lawsuits against three Texas businesses, accusing them of price gouging consumers in need of fuel, shelter, and other essentials during Hurricane Harvey.
The three businesses named in the price gouging lawsuits are:
- Robstown Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Best Western Plus Tropic Inn. The Robstown-based hotel allegedly charged three times its normal room rate the weekend Hurricane Harvey hit. As a result, Best Western has since ended its relationship with Robstown Enterprises.
- Bains Brothers, owners of Texaco-branded gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Two of the stations allegedly charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31, even while displaying signs with prices in the $3-$4 range.
- Encinal Fuel Stop, a Chevron-branded gas station just outside Laredo, allegedly charged customers $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31.
“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,” Attorney General Paxton said in the release. “Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”
Price gouging carries a civil penalty of up to $20,000 for each violation and up to $250,000 for incidents that specifically target victims age 65 or older.
The Consumer Protection Divison of the attorney general’s office has received 3,321 Hurricane Harvey price gouging complaints so far.
Texans in affected counties who believe they’ve been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 621-0508, email email@example.com, or file a complaint online.