Imagine the scenario: Your house is underwater. You’re desperately looking for food and water for your family, and you finally find a store that’s open. But as you go to pay for what you need, one of the few human necessities — clean water — costs ten times what it normally does.
That’s actually happening on the ground in Texas. Some businesses are profiting off the desperation and misery of Hurricane Harvey — and they may have to answer to the state’s Attorney General if found guilty of price gouging.
Photos submitted to GritPost appear to show price gouging for bottled water at various stores across the Houston metro area, including a Best Buy offering $29 and $42 cases of water. The Texas Attorney General’s office confirmed to GritPost that reports of price gouging have been flowing in — over 550 complaints and 225 emails. And they expect even more once the waters go down.
“We expect more complaints in the wake of the storm regarding home repair and construction fraud/price gouging,” said Kayleigh Lovvorn, who works in media relations in the Texas Attorney General’s office.
“Unfortunately, price gouging like this can be common following natural disasters,” she concluded. Lovvorn added that they office has seen complaints from “hotels, grocers, fuel providers and (most frequently) fresh water.”
Businesses found guilty of price gouging can face fines of $20,000, according to Gritpost. They also note that “anyone who overcharges a senior citizen on necessary goods will be fined $250,000.”