Price gouging banned statewide due to Hurricane Matthew, AG Cooper says
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Law prohibits unfair price hikes for hotels, restaurants, gas, and more
Raleigh: North Carolina's law against price gouging is now in effect for all 100 counties for all goods and services, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday morning.
"Most businesses treat their customers fairly, in good times and bad, but some may try to take unfair advantage of a crisis," Cooper said. "A disaster is not the time to hike prices."
The general ban on price gouging triggered by Hurricane Matthew was extended late Thursday to cover the entire state. The law prohibits unreasonable prices, including for hotel and motel rooms, restaurants, and gasoline.
The law against price gouging protects not only North Carolina consumers but also people who may be evacuating to North Carolina from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to avoid the hurricane.
"North Carolina wants to welcome those fleeing the storm, not try to profit unfairly from their distress," Cooper said. "If you spot price gouging, let my office know."
Consumers can report price gouging online at ncdoj.gov or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (919-716-6000 if calling from an out-of-state number).
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. The law applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
Cooper has enforced North Carolina’s price gouging law in the past to win thousands of dollars in refunds for consumers and penalties from violators. His office is currently investigating 11 gas stations and one gas wholesaler for alleged gas price gouging reported by consumers last month. That investigation is ongoing.
Cooper also warned earlier this week about other storm related scams, such as home repair fraud and charity scams.