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4,000 price-gouging complaints have been filed in Texas during COVID-19 emergency

$7 milk, $14 ground beef and $30 water are some of the 4,000 price-gouging complaints during the COVID-19 crisis.

HOUSTON — Price-gouging complaints continue to pour into the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The consumer protection agency has now logged more than 4,000 since Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide disaster on March 13.

Carla Guillory filed a complaint after going to a discount store in southwest Houston looking for cleaning supplies.

“We were in shock and she could tell by our expressions,” Guillory said of the cashier, who confirmed the $19.99 price tag for a can of Lysol disinfectant spray.

“I was definitely frustrated and angry when she asked for 80 something bucks for maybe three products,” Guillory said.

At Gemini Plumbing in northwest Houston, work has been slow during the COVID-19 crisis and owner Chris Small has been struggling to provide hours for his employees. When he recently filled his company truck up with gas, he didn’t immediately realize he was paying $3.89 per gallon for premium, about $1.40 more than he usually pays.

“What comes to mind you can’t put on TV. Let’s just leave it at that,” he said.

Both consumers filed price-gouging complaints with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which has logged 4,049 complaints. The number grows by several hundred every day. They include milk sold at $7 per gallon, nearly $30 for a dozen rolls of toilet paper, $14 for a pound of ground beef and one consumer who paid $30 for a case of water.

“This is a time when Texans need to be taking care of Texans, not taking advantage of Texans,” said agency spokesperson Mark Rylander.

“And so people just need to understand, if they are engaging in price gouging, they should cease and desist immediately, or our office will come after them," he said.

The Attorney General’s office has already gone after one Houston company, Auctions Unlimited, for allegedly gouging the price of much-needed protective masks. Rylander said after Hurricane Harvey, the Attorney General’s Office proved it will prosecute people for price gouging and is just as serious now.

If you have a price-gouging complaint, you can call the Texas Attorney General Consumer Protection hotline at 800-621-0508, or file a complaint online here.

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