Price Gouging Illegal Under Disaster Declaration
By Maui Now Staff
The state Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Bruce Kim today informed the public that there is a price cap in effect for commodities in conjunction with Governor Neil Abercrombie’s disaster declaration issued on Wednesday.
“The statewide emergency has triggered statutory price caps on selling prices at pre-emergency levels for all commodities, including food, water, ice, gasoline, cooking fuel, batteries, and generators,” said Kim in a press release.
“Any price increase of these and other commodities since severe weather warnings began through at least Aug. 16, 2014, is a violation of state law and merchants found in violation may be subject to severe fines and penalties,” said Kim.
If merchants have unknowingly raised prices during this period, they may avoid a violation by:
- rolling back prices to the appropriate level, and
- putting a restitution program in place to return any excessive payments resulting from the illegal price increases to consumers.
Kim said the Office of Consumer Protection will investigate complaints and prosecute any offenders to the “fullest extent of the law.”
He said it is important for consumers to follow through by providing information to authorities.
If consumers believe they paid increased prices for merchandise, they are advised to:
- Keep their receipts and/or other records of the sale, and report any instances of price gouging by emailing [email protected]
- The communication should include: 1) Name of business; 2) Location of business – island, area; 3) What was being purchased, any additional info on the item; 4) Name and contact number of caller if they are willing
- During normal work hours consumers can call the DCCA’s Consumer Resource Center between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday by calling 587-4272 or 587-3295 from Oʻahu, or from the neighbor islands call the following numbers followed by 7-4272 and the # sign: Kauaʻi 274-3141; Maui 984-2400; Hawaiʻi 974-4000; and Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi 1-800-468-4644 (toll free)/
An electronic copy of OCP’s complaint is available on its website. During regular business hours, consumers may call 808-587-4272 at the Consumer Resource Center to obtain a complaint form and file a formal complaint.