Price gouging law goes into effect due to tropical system Idalia

Price gouging law goes into effect due to tropical system Idalia
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 9:32 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The impact of Idalia may raise demand for basic things like gas and food, but if prices spike too drastically, North Carolina has a law in place to protect consumers.

Customers say some are buying a lot at once to get ahead of Idalia, but that exact behavior is what some businesses could try to take advantage of during natural disasters.

Idalia, which is a tropical system, might motivate some people to stock up on necessities all at once. Customers like Lynn Higginson say it’s toilet paper, bread, and milk that run out the fastest.

Higginson said, “They buy things like they’re never going to have them again.”

That mentality can make shoppers easy topics for drastic increases in prices, which is where North Carolina’s price gouging law comes in.

Since 2018, North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein brought 12 lawsuits against 29 defendants and 14 judgments or settlements totaling slightly over a million dollars against defendants in price gouging.

Customer Michael Ellifritz has seen the effects of officials stepping in to control prices. He told WITN, “With hurricane Florence, we saw some of the prices creep up and I couldn’t tell if it was just because of Florence or if that was a coincidence with what was happening there, but then after hearing some of the stations that got cracked down on, we definitely saw those come back down and some changes happening very quickly so very glad.”

274 thousand dollars was the largest price-gouging settlement in the North Carolina Department of Justice.

If you see or experience any price gouging during a state of emergency, you can report it to 1-877-5-no-scam or file a complaint on the Department of Justice website.

Some businesses and industries might have to increase prices to resupply with hurricanes, but they should be disclosing why the increases are happening so people can make informed purchasing decisions.