Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company says customers are calling with complaints that they’ve been charged thousands of dollars to pump water out of basements when it should have cost just hundreds.
Allstate says one senior citizen reported being charged $6,500, including $1,000 in cash, for two hours of pumping.
On August 27, 2011, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs warned gasoline retailers, grocers, and other merchants that price gouging is prohibited during the State of Emergency declared in advance of Hurricane Irene. The State of Emergency declared by Gov. Chris Christie automatically activated New Jersey’s price gouging law.
The state Division of Consumer Affairs says it is investigating about 10 complaints that have come in so far. Those include allegations of overcharging for bottled water and gasoline.
New Jersey law prohibits raising prices more than 10 percent (than the price at which a good or service was sold in the usual course of business prior to the State of Emergency) during a state of emergency or within 30 days the termination of the State of Emergency.
Violations are punishable by civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses. Each individual sale of merchandise is considered a separate and distinct event.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
For full articles see: State issues warning about hurricane-related price gouging (The Bridgeton News – NJ.com) and N.J. residents report Hurricane Irene-related price gouging | NJ.com