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N.J. AG Warns Hotels, Merchants About Price Gouging During Storm Emergency

Greetings from the Dulles Airport Marriott, where I am pecking out this post from the hotel lobby. I am here because the power at my home has been out since Friday night following the crazy derecho storm that blasted several Eastern states, including Virginia. The storm has reportedly left over one million people in the Washington, D.C. area without power.

My family and I tried to wait out the power outage from home, despite the triple-digit temperatures this week, but finally fled to a hotel due to the lack of water -- which is another very unfortunate consequence of having no power when your house has a well, which works on an electric well pump. I was grateful to get a reasonable rate to stay at this hotel, but that does not seem to be the case everywhere. In New Jersey, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued a warning Monday to hotels and other merchants who are engaged in price gouging during a time of emergency in several counties in the state. Chiesa warned that 

New Jersey's price gouging statute, N.J.S.A. 56:8-107, et. seq., makes it illegal to set excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency or for 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency.

"During life-threatening emergencies, New Jerseyans should look out for each other - not seek to take advantage of each other," Attorney General Chiesa said. "We will look closely at any and all complaints about alleged price gouging. Anyone found to have violated the law will face significant penalties."

The Consumerist reports that in Pennsylvania, a hotel in Philadelphia that normally priced rooms at $79 a night suddenly began demanding $189. The hotel attributed the jump to "the busy holiday season" but quickly lowered the price after being visited by a TV news crew.

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 3, 2012 at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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