Superstorm Sandy brought about a lot of trouble for residents in New York. Not only did some people have to contend with losing their homes and loved ones, but a loss of normalcy by the way of electricity and gas certainly didn’t help. As New Yorkers and residents in surrounding states continue to recover from Sandy’s wrath, there is another monster on the rise: price gouging.
Price gouging occurs when retailers and other types of venues significantly increase the prices on otherwise affordable goods. The sellers defend the prices, saying that an increased demand gives them a right for such drastic inflation. Not only is such action immoral, but price gouging on essential items is against New York state law.
Following Superstorm Sandy, the New York Attorney General’s office has been flooded with complaints. According to USA Today, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has received over 500 calls for possible price gouging. While many of the cases involve gasoline, others involve smaller goods such as matches, water, generators, batteries and bread. In fact, one vendor reportedly sold a box of matches for $10!
Price gouging is illegal for a reason—businesses cannot reasonably sell their goods at such a significant increase in cost. While a business might argue that they are losing money because of the storm, this is ultimately what business insurance for. As a business, you cannot take out your losses on the suffering of others in the wake of a natural disaster.
As a consumer, you can report possible cases of price gouging to the state Attorney General’s office. If you have been cheated out of a case of price gouging, speak with an experienced NY attorney right away.