Texas stores price gouging during Harvey: Gas for $20 per gallon, bottled water for $99

Hotel caught tripling room rates for evacuees

As thousands of Texans flee the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, hundreds of businesses have reportedly been caught jacking up prices on evacuees.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNBC this week that his office received more than 500 complaints of price gouging over the weekend alone.

One convenience store in Houston was selling gas for $20 per gallon, Paxton's office told the automotive news website Jalopnik on Tuesday. The attorney general also said other gas stations in the area were charging up to $10 per gallon.

 

One hotel located about 20 miles from Corpus Christi tripled its room rates after the storm made landfall, according to KXAN-TV. The hotel was charging $321.89 a night for a room with two queen beds that was listed at between $120 and $149 a night before Harvey hit.

The TV station's investigation into that hotel's price gouging led the business to give refunds to 40 guests after Paxton's office found out what they were doing.

Over the weekend, Best Buy was criticized online when a store in the Houston area was found to be charging $42.96 for cases of bottled water, according to CBS News.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company blamed the incident on "a few employees at a single store" and said it was "deeply sorry that we gave anyone even the momentary impression that we were trying to take advantage of the situation."

Paxton told CNBC that one report indicated a store was selling cases of bottled water for $99 each.

He said price gouging is a serious offense for a business that can result in a fine of $20,000 per occurrence — and up to $250,000 if the victim is over the age of 65.

Clint Davis is a reporter for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis. Keep up to date with the latest news by following @ScrippsNational on Twitter.

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