Last year’s catastrophic Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the Houston area and claimed more than 80 lives. Many people stepped up to help their neighbors in the aftermath, but there were others who turned the community’s shared distress into a moneymaking enterprise through price gouging.
Immediately following the worst of the storm, both the Texas governor and attorney general warned businesses against price gouging. However, there were numerous reports of hurricane victims being charged ridiculous amounts for everything from bottled water to hotel rooms to gasoline.
The fears over supply shortages hit hard in Dallas, where hundreds of gas stations ran out of fuel and thousands of customers waited in line for hours.
Texas AG Files Price Gouging Claims
The AG’s office responded to reports of price gouging by asking those who believed they had been overcharged to provide copies of their receipts. In the months that followed, the AG filed a series of lawsuits and issued more than 125 notices of violations.
Now, several of those businesses have agreed to a legal settlement that includes more than $160,000 in refunds for customers. According to published reports, 48 Texas gas stations signed off on the agreement, including 14 in Dallas. Overall, 42 of the stations are in North Texas.
The AG says all the stations in the settlement charged gas prices of at least $3.99 per gallon after Harvey. Some stations reportedly charged as much as $8.99 per gallon. Gas prices in Texas averaged roughly $2.20 per gallon at the time.
The two biggest payouts reportedly are coming from the Old Town Store in Garland, which agreed to refund $14,870, and Bob’s Exxon in Dallas, which will pay $12,000. In an odd twist, the Old Town Store recently was in the news for selling a $1 million winning scratch-off lottery ticket. Based on the Texas Lottery’s bonus program, that means the owners of Old Town are in line for a $10,000 bonus, which should help offset their settlement payment.
Protecting Clients’ Money
The gas stations that agreed to the price gouging settlement saw an opportunity to grab some extra cash and thought they could get away with it. Fortunately, the state was there to help.
At the Law Offices of Brad Jackson, we have spent decades helping individuals and companies who similarly have been ripped off through no fault of their own. The unfortunate truth is that there are people in all walks of life who are looking for the chance to line their pockets even if it means violating the law. That’s why we are here to protect clients’ interests and make sure that responsible parties are held accountable under the law.