Flood Of Price Gouging Complaints Overwhelms State Investigators

“They’re Coming in Like Wildfire.”

By Jack Douglas Jr. |Senior Investigative Producer

NORTH TEXAS (CBS11 NEWS) – The Texas Attorney General’s Office has been “swamped” with calls from people – most of them Hurricane Harvey victims — who say they have been cheated by businesses taking advantage of their despair.

One of the most widely reported cases of price gouging came from a Best Western hotel in Robstown, near the coastal city of Corpus Christi, where rooms more than doubled in price in the aftermath of the hurricane, the AG’s office said.

The hotel’s dramatic hike in rates, first reported by Austin television station KXAN, prompted Best Western to sever ties with the hotel, saying in a statement it was “deeply offended and saddened by the actions taken by this hotel.”

By late afternoon Wednesday, the attorney general’s office had received 916 complaints of price gouging, from ridiculously priced bottles of water and exorbitant gas prices, to inflated hotel room rates.

“That number is still rising,” said Jennifer Speller, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office. “They’re coming in like wildfire,” she said.

The state urged people who feel they have been cheated to take pictures of receipts and record interactions with businesses. They should then submit them to the AG’s office at consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov.

Because of the high number of calls, staffers from other departments of the AG’s office were being called in to investigate, Speller said, but in many cases they have been slowed by high water in the affected areas.

“They’re working as fast as they can,” she said.

If you want to reach CBS11′s Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr., you can email him at jdouglas@cbs.com.

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