HOUSTON – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday lawsuits against three businesses for alleged price gouging during Hurricane Harvey.
Robstown Enterprises, the owners of a Best Western Plus Tropic Inn, allegedly charged three times its normal room rate the weekend Harvey hit. As a result, Best Western ended its relationship with Robstown Enterprises.
According to the AG, Bains Brothers allegedly charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas at their Texaco-branded stations in the DFW area 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 $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31.
Price gouging carries civil penalties up to $20,000 for each violation and an additional amount of up to $250,000 for incidents calculated to acquire money from victims 65 or older. The attorney general’s office says so far it has received 3,321 Hurricane Harvey price gouging complaints.
Texans who believe they’ve been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-621-0508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or file a complaint online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/file-a-consumer-complaint.
“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. “Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”
Texas law prohibits vendors from charging exorbitant prices for necessities during a declared disaster.