Florida consumers have sent the Attorney General’s office more than 1,300 complaints of alleged price gouging after Hurricane Ian hit the state Sept. 28.
Most of the complaints involve prices for gas and water, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s spokeswoman Kylie Mason confirmed in an email.
The complaints, fielded by the office’s Consumer Protection Division, have yielded $17,000 in rebates for 100 consumers.
The Division can’t issue fines automatically but attempts to get refunds for customers or get businesses to lower their prices.
“Our Rapid Response Team addresses allegations from consumers in an effort to quickly achieve price reductions and obtain refunds for consumers. Securing refunds or price reductions in no way impedes future efforts to bring legal action against an entity and recover fines,” Mason wrote. “These immediate actions are important because price gouging investigations can take time and litigation can last even longer.”
Florida’s prohibition on price gouging takes effect during a declared state of emergency and applies to essential goods after a storm such as gas, water and food purchased at retail; as well as services, equipment, storage facilities and lodging.
If a retailer offers goods or services at a price that “grossly exceeds” the average amount the same goods or services were sold at in the 30 days prior to the emergency, it amounts to price gouging under state law. There is an exception if the price hike can be attributed to additional costs or market trends.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, a storm that slammed the Panhandle in 2018 as a Category 5, and Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that brushed alongside the state’s east coast but never made landfall in 2019, the state secured $180,000 in restitution for consumers for price gouging complaints and levied $65,000 in penalties to businesses.
Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida as a Category 4, bringing massive storm surge and damaging winds, and heavy flooding as it made its way through Central Florida.
October 14, 2022 at 10:03 pm
That’s Free Capitalism for you. Don’t like it you snowflakes?
Move to China!
October 14, 2022 at 10:25 pm
So is inflation, booms and busts, price instability, class conflict, poverty, employment highs and lows, unequal access to medical care and education, financial schemes, crashes..I could go on and on. Tell us how rich “Free Capitalism” (no such word) has made you over the last 20 years. We see what unequal access to education has done to you….
October 14, 2022 at 11:30 pm
Supply & Demand, you communist.
If the free market demands $20 for a bottle of water, then that’s what these patriots who are there selling water deserve.
October 14, 2022 at 11:38 pm
“If the free market demands $20 water”… well then don’t complain about inflation, high gas prices, high food prices… because “that’s what the free market demands”🤡
Also don’t complain when people aren’t being paid anything near living wages anymore and move… leave you dumbasses to be enslaved by people like Trump.
All of it
October 15, 2022 at 4:57 am
I would have just robbed them and took the water lol
October 16, 2022 at 6:59 pm
Believe it or not price hiking actually curtails HOARDING … weird huh
October 20, 2022 at 6:17 pm
People HOARD roofs? Missed that episode on HGTV. You can always pick out the one that got a “participation” star and swore he got first place. SMH
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