How to Spot Price Gouging


The emergency management coordinator for Travis County initially announced that the boil-water order for Austin, Texas could last two weeks as the city’s water treatment system works to restore normal output. It’s believed at least 888,000 people in the city are affected after floodwaters slowed down the water treatment process and limited the amount of clean water available to customers.

Officials now expect the problem to persist for days, not weeks. It was later reported yesterday that Austin Water officials said they think the ban could be lifted much sooner if people continue to conserve water in any way they can, and residents will only be asked to boil water for a “handful of days.”

After Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas, included Travis County in a disaster declaration last week because of flooding and damage throughout the area, it also made price gouging illegal.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office defines price gouging as “selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity.”

If you’re one of those affected and plan to visit a store to purchase bottled water, it’s important to understand what price gouging is and how to report it. BBB wants to remind consumers that high prices alone do not indicate that price gouging has taken place.

Businesses are generally allowed to determine the prices of their products. However, since a disaster has been declared, if a business is charging you more for necessity products like bottled water than it normally would, that’s a red flag that price gouging may have occurred.

To report a business of suspected price gouging, file a consumer complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, here.

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