HOUSTON - Claims of price gouging have been surfacing throughout the Houston area. Many say they’re being forced to pay excessive amounts of money for necessities ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
Pictures have been pouring in to KHOU 11 News from customers who are concerned they’re being taken advantage of.
One man sent a copy of his receipt. He says he paid almost $72.00 for four cases of water at a store in North Harris County.
Another woman.sent a picture from a different store near Cypress. The sign in the picture says an 18 pack case of water is selling for almost $18.00.
“You’re not supposed to artificially inflate prices of things that are emergency or needed because of a disaster," President with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas Dan Parsons said.
Not only is price gouging during a natural disaster unethical, it’s against the law. Parsons said those businesses will be heavily fined if found guilty of price gouging. This applies to goods like drinking water, medicine, food, batteries, gas, generators, or services like towing.
He says they expect to receive a number of complaints over the next week and it’s important to document any suspicions and hold on to those receipts.
“You want credit card purchases, something you can go back to and say 'look, here’s the prevailing market price. Here’s what I was charged' and even better go back in three weeks and say and 'look what the price is now,'” Parsons said.
The Attorney Generals Office says they’ve already received more than 75 complaints of price gouging just from Hurricane Harvey alone.
Parsons says the most important thing to do if you are suspicious of price gouging is to file a complaint.
Texas law prohibits businesses from price gouging during disasters. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act is designed to protect consumers during disasters.
This applies to goods like drinking water, medicine, food, batteries, gas, generators, or services like towing.
You can also file complaints with the BBB here.