For New Yorkers struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the last thing they needed was to overpay for basic necessities like a flashlight, batteries and gas.
But that's exactly what's happening, said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's received hundreds of complaints of price gouging in the past week alone.
One car service driver we spoke to in the East Village reported seeing flashlights being sold for $20 a pop, while we spotted a woman in the Lower East Side selling bags of ice on the street for $10 each.
In a press release issued Monday , the AG said consumers are getting gouged for just about anything, from hotels to emergency supplies like generators. Now a fter explicitly warning vendors not to price gouge their customers in the wake of the storm, he's vowed to "actively investigate" complaints he's received across the state. That means supermarkets, gas stations hardware stores, bodegas, delis, livery cab drivers and taxis—and possibly more.
The most common complaint he's hearing is price-gouging for gas—no surprise given the ongoing shortages in New York and New Jersey right now, or the scammy ads posted on Craigslist that promise cheap gas for as much as $25 a gallon.
But while New York's law doesn't explicitly define what an "unconscionably excessive" price is, you can bet there's some price gouging going on if the "before and after" price comparison test shows a glaring disparity. Also check to see what other vendors are charging in the area—if the price is significantly higher than the "fair market value," watch out.
People who think they've been gouged should contact the Attorney General's office to report it by calling 800-771-7755 or file a complaint online at www.ag.ny.gov. Likewise, check out the AG's list of tips for avoiding potential price gouging.
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