68 price gouging complaints filed in Texas after Hurricane Laura, more possible with Tropical Storm Beta

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State officials received 68 price gouging complaints following Hurricane Laura in August.

Now, the Office of Attorney General will likely receive more complaints in the coming days after Tropical Storm Beta, which continued flooding areas of the Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for several Texas counties on Monday.

The declaration gives Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office the authority to prosecute any businesses for exorbitantly raises prices on vital goods and services.

Price gouging is a perennial problem in Texas, where frequent natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes force people to evacuate their homes and make emergency purchases. Paxton’s office investigates complaints, and any consumer that suspects price gouging can file a complaint through the AG’s website here.

“My message to those who are actually price gouging is: don’t do it because we will investigate you and you will end up paying the money back. And it will end up costing you as a business more, and it also hurts your reputation,” Paxton told KXAN in August.

The total number of Hurricane Laura complaints is dwarfed by the more than 5,000 complaints OAG processed after Hurricane Harvey, according to records obtained by KXAN.

Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm near the Texas-Louisiana border on August 27. Tropical Storm Beta made landfall Monday night and continues to bring widespread rain and flooding from Matagorda Bay to east of Houston.  

KXAN has requested the number of price gouging complaints associated with Beta, and will update this report when that information becomes available.

Here is a breakdown of all price gouging complaints in various sectors related to Hurricane Laura:

  • 29 complaints – Lodging
  • 19 – Fuel
  • 11 – Hardware supplies
  • 6 – Food, water, groceries            
  • 2 – Unknown     
  • 1 – Online retailer

Consumers who encounter unfair pricing or business practices can file a complaint with the OAG’s office either online or over the phone.

Complaints can be filed online here: http://txoag.force.com/CPDOnlineForm, or through email at consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov, and the OAG’s consumer protection hotline is (800) 621-0508.

You can learn more about the consumer complaint process here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.

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