Friday, September 12, 2008

Will Ike Spike Another Round of Price Gouging?

With Hurricane Ike headed for South Texas -- some are predicting that greedy businesses will gouge people by charging unfair prices for necessary goods and services.

Yesterday, the Texas AAA issued a press release encouraging people to report any suspected gouging. They noted in past disasters hotels, gas stations and convenience stores have been caught taking advantage of other people's unfortunate situation during a disaster. Goods that frequently have their prices artificially raised include gas, drinking water, batteries and food.

The Texas AAA recommends that if you think you have been gouged to keep your receipts and file a report with the Texas Attorney General. The Texas Attorney General has already warned that gougers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Reports can be filed by telephone at 1-800-252-8011.

While Texas is the obvious place price gouging might occur, concerns are already being raised in other States about this. in Florida, in Indiana and WIS10 in South Carolina are all running stories on gas gouging. There is even concern in Canada that Hurricane Ike will spark a round of gouging up there.

Most of these articles recommend contacting your state's Attorney General if you have concerns about gouging. Reports can also be filed with the Department of Energy.

Besides filing a report, there are resources to ensure you are getting the most out of your hard-earned money in your area. is a online means of finding the best prices in both the United States and Canada. In Canada, there is an interesting tool from the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) where you can see how much you are being gouged.

As a disclaimer, there are some who will argue that any suspected gouging is merely the result of natural events. Please note the people that argue this will probably be affiliated in some manner with Big Oil. Of course, other's might argue Big Oil has been gouging everybody for a long time. Of course, there is an argument that financial types have been playing around with the prices via speculation, also.

Sadly enough, despite a lot of frustration by the general public, Congress took off on vacation without addressing the public outcry on this issue. I'm not sure how much good reporting price gouging will do, but if enough people do, perhaps all the politicians crying foul about this issue will finally do something about it?

In my opinion, thus far, we've seen a lot of words but little action on this subject!

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