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Storm Surge: An avalanche of price gouging complaints

October 6th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

Because Florida is under a State of Emergency, it is illegal for businesses to raise prices and over charge for goods that are needed as a direct result of this emergency. And as Mike Vasilinda tells us, many businesses haven’t gotten the message.

Food, water, ice,, gas, lumber and even hotel rooms and rental cars are covered by the state law that prohibits price gouging. Rhoda Poore asked one caller: “Do you know what they normally sell it there for sir?”

But many businesses haven’t gotten the message. Hot line operator Jack Hagadorn could barely take time to talk, “Non stop. Yes sir, they are continuing coming in as fast as we can answer.”

The calls are coming so fast, 20 people can’t keep up with the volume.

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Q:”That was a gas complaint from Jacksonville? we asked,

“Yes sir”.

Operator Guy Thompson says the worst case was a gas station. “Most recently we had gas had gone up a dollar a gallon.”

The calls are coming from across the state said Chris Provenzano. We asked about his most recent complaint.

“The folks were charging ten dollars for a twelve pack of water.”

“Q:seems high?”

Well. we’re going to have investigators go out and take a look at it.”

The Attorney General’s spokesman, Whitney ray, says every complaint is being investigated.

“Any business that intentionally inflates the prices because a hurricane is coming, they saw a lot of need. So those are the things we’l be working out right now and probably in the days and weeks following the storm” says Ray.

Investigators will first try to get a merchant to return prices to normal., says Ray, but If that fails, big fines could be on the horizon.

“Penalties can be a thousand dollars per violation, up to twenty-five thousand dollars within a twenty-four hour period.”

The most complaints today are gas, water and ice, followed closely by hotel rooms and rental cars.”

And while those are the hot items now, The law literally covers anything people need in an emergency right down to the tarp to cover a hole in your roof.

To file a price gouging complaint, the number to call is 1-866-9-NoScam. you can also file a complaint online at myfloridalegal.com.  The Attorney General’s web site says the best advice to avoid being over charged is to stock up before the storm is barreling down on the state.

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