New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gave notice to New York businesses that his office will not tolerate any attempt to price gouge in the wake of the Yates County storm.
Schneiderman addressed his concerns in an open letter to retailers selling necessary consumer goods and to essential service providers. The warning covers the whole state, but it is especially aimed at Yates County.
Unscrupulous business owners, the Attorney General points out, are sometimes tempted to raise prices after a disaster and during a state of emergency such as exists in Yates County. It's precisely those kinds of sleazy tactics that are in the cross-hairs of Schneiderman's warning:
"Inclement weather," writes the Attorney General, "can often attract unscrupulous activity from businesses looking to take advantage of the situation.” Any business considering price gouging says Schneiderman should be aware that he "can and will enforce the law."
If you suspect you're being ripped off by price gougers contact the Attorney's Office immediately.
Here is a copy of the Schneiderman letter:
May 14, 2014
This open letter is addressed to anyone selling necessary consumer goods and providing essential services in New York State as local residents start down the road to recovery after the recent storm.
New Yorkers will rely upon you for the items needed to prepare for, weather, and recover from these extreme conditions, as we all stock up on water, food - including staples such as bread and milk - batteries, generators, fuel and other essentials. Perhaps even more, we will rely on you to assist us in clearing debris and recovering from the damage left to our trees and homes. It can be a thankless responsibility, and we all owe you our gratitude.
While most understand that customers are also neighbors and would never think of taking advantage of others during such disruptive times, these circumstances always require an extra sense of vigilance and preparation.
This notification should serve as a reminder to vendors and their consumers that state law prohibits price gouging at times when nature demonstrates its disruptive fury. The New York General Business Law forbids those who sell essential consumer goods and services from charging excessive prices during what is clearly an abnormal disruption of the market. Those who do so will ultimately see a reduction in their profits and will be faced with penalties, fines and directives to set up reimbursement funds.
As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the price-gouging law, and while it is my hope that I will not need to do so, my office is certainly prepared. We will review pricing data and take such complaints filed with my office seriously, as we do with any matter.
New Yorkers have always been at their best when facing adversity, and I am confident that we will live up to that standard throughout this storm recovery.