Heroic volunteer rescue workers in their own boats are among the most indelible images of Hurricane Harvey's aftermath, but the wake of the storm also is spawning dismaying reports of $99 cases of water and $20 gallons of gasoline. The AG's office learned about the Houston convenience store on Monday afternoon and confirmed the price of fuel being offered was indeed a sky-high $20 per gallon. "So there's some severe penalties, and we're looking for them, and we'll be coming after them".
"Unfortunately, price gouging like this can be common following natural disasters", she concluded. Customers, understandably furious, saying, "You should be ashamed of yourself", and "I think this is ridiculous that they're price gouging".
In Texas, offenders who engage in price gouging can face fines of up to $20,000 per offense, and up to $250,000 if the victim is 65 or older.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office had received 684 complaints of price gouging and various scams and of fraudulent charities related to Hurricane Harvey as of Wednesday morning.
Paxton explained that the rule of thumb for officials is to investigate price increases greater than 10%. Near Corpus Christi, one hotel reportedly was charging $321.89 per night for a room with two queen beds - the same room normally goes for $120 to $149 per night. As a result, we are immediately severing any affiliation with the hotel. "We're sorry and it won't happen again", the spokesman said.
In the meantime, that particular station, which has not been identified, has been ordered to lower its prices.
RaceWay told ABC News in a statement that the store in the viral video "is operated by an independent RaceWay contract operator", and that the incident "was a clerical error and not price gouging". The manager has complied, says Paxton's office.
On their website, the office of the attorney general describes price gouging as "selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price" or "demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity".
Meanwhile, Paxton says that price-gouging will not be tolerated in The Lone Star State.
"These are things you can't do in Texas", Paxton said in an interview with CNBC. As a company we are focused on helping, not hurting affected people.
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