In recent days, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office has been flooded with complaints of price-gouging, following the wrath of Hurricane Harvey—hotels tripling rates, $99 for a case of water, and fuel as costly as $10 per gallon. On Monday, that already-high price for gas was bested by a Houston convenience store that, according to the AG’s office, was selling fuel at $20 per gallon.
The AG’s office has currently received about 600 complaints in total, a spokesperson told Jalopnik. 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.
“That convenience store was reported to us in a complaint—we’re tracking all complaints as they come in and following up with persons/businesses involved in price gouging and scams as quickly as we can, and in person if possible,” the spokesperson, Kayleigh Lovvorn, said.
More complaints are anticipated, and the gas station has since been ordered to lower the cost, Lovvorn said.
Once a disaster has been declared by the Texas governor, the AG’s office has the authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging of goods, including fuel, food and medicine. Paxton told CNBC in an interview that fines for price-gouging in Texas can range from $20,000 per occurrence, or up to $250,000 if a victim is at least 65-years-old.
“These are things you can’t do in Texas,” Paxton said in the interview. “There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this.”
The AG’s office encourages individuals who believe goods are being charged at an unfairly high price to first raise the issue directly with the business. If the matter isn’t resolved, a complaint can be filed directly with the office.