Friday, October 3, 2008

Texas Attorney General Sues Hotels for Price Gouging

The aftermath of a natural disaster can, unfortunately, produce many reasons for seeking legal assistance. Over the past month, I have written several posts on this blog concerning problems that people in Texas (and throughout the region) are facing at a result of Hurricane Ike. From insurance companies who drag their feet in addressing claims to the unfortunate decision by some of our fellow residents to cheat the system to the looting of personal and business property, there are many reasons that high winds and torrential rains leave behind many instances for which an attorney is required. Yesterday, hotel owners who took advantage of hurricane evacuees were in the legal spotlight.

The Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott, is suing Hotel Nacogdoches north of Houston and the Super 8 Brookshire Motel west of Katy for price gouging during Hurricane Ike. These two destinations for weary travelers are accused of increasing rates anywhere from 50 to 100 percent leading up to, and during, the storm. In addition, they continued to charge sales tax to those escaping the destructive hurricane even though Governor Rick Perry ordered that the tax be suspended during this emergency.

The two businesses will be charged under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which makes it illegal to "sell or lease fuel, food, lodging, medicine or other necessities at an exorbitant price" during a declared state of emergency. These hotels face a $20,000 fine for every instance of a violation. How many people will come forward with evidence that rooms normally costing $49 were going for as much as $109? This ill-advised attempt at a profit instead could become quite costly for Hotel Nacogdoches and Super 8 Motel.

Have you been the victim of deceptive or unfair business practices following Hurricane Ike? At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who are experienced in the specifics of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Please give us the opportunity to get you the justice you deserve. Contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let us know what happened to you.

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