Texas AG files lawsuits against 3 companies for price gouging during Hurricane Harvey

Hotel charged 3 times normal rate, gas stations charged $6+ for gas, AG says

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

AUSTIN - From charging triple the normal rate for a hotel room, to hiking gas prices as high as $9.99 after Hurricane Harvey -- the Texas Attorney General is making businesses who allegedly price gouged during a declared disaster pay.

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed lawsuits against three businesses, his office announced Tuesday.

“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,” Paxton said. “Texas has tough price gouging laws, and my office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases arising from Hurricane Harvey.”

The AG's office has filed lawsuits against the following businesses:

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.

The release said those found to be price gouging can face civil penalties of up to $20,000 for each violation. Additionally, businesses can be fined up to $250,000 for incidents that targeted victims 65 or older.

The Consumer Protection Division has received 3,321 Hurricane Harvey price gouging complaints.

If you think you've been scammed or price gouged, you should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 621-0508, email consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov or file a complaint online.



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