Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Hurricane Consumer Alert: Disaster Declaration Extended; Report Price Gouging To Complaint Hotline
Houston County Courier - October 2008
AUSTIN - This week, Gov. Perry extended the Hurricane Ike disaster declaration through Nov. 6 for 90 Texas counties.
Texans who live in the affected areas may continue to report price gouging complaints to the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011.
Hotline staff is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to receive price gouging complaints. Information collected is relayed directly to agency investigators.
Since Gov. Perry’s hurricane disaster declaration, the OAG has received hundreds of price gouging complaints from around the state.
Most complaints allege price gouging on gas and lodging; others report price hikes involving food, water and power generators.
The agency is investigating some consumers’ claims that they were unlawfully charged inflated prices for necessities including fuel, hotel lodging and other necessities.
A disaster declaration triggers heightened enforcement authority for the Office of the Attorney General under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
This authority protects Texans by prohibiting exorbitant prices for necessities, such as drinking water, food, batteries and generators.
Although state law prohibits vendors from illegally raising prices to reap exorbitant profits during a disaster, it does allow retailers to pass along wholesale price increases to customers. Thus, in some cases, increased prices may not necessarily signal illegal price gouging.
Texans should keep written records and receipts of any transaction they believe constitutes price gouging.
If speaking directly with the service provider does not resolve the dispute, Texans should call the toll-free complaint line or, if Internet service is available, file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov
The governor’s extended disaster declaration includes the following counties: Anderson, Angelina, Aransas, Archer, Austin, Bell, Bexar, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Calhoun, Cass, Chambers, Cherokee, Collin, Colorado, Comal, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, El Paso, Fort Bend, Franklin, Freestone, Galveston, Grayson, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Henderson, Hill, Hopkins, Houston, Hunt, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Lamar, Lavaca, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Lubbock, Madison, Marion, Matagorda, McLennan, Milam, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Panola, Parker, Polk, Potter, Randall, Robertson, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Shelby, Smith, Tarrant, Titus, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Waller, Walker, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Williamson, Wise and Wood.