Reports of Hurricane Harvey price-gouging are emerging

 

Reports of price-gouging — including $20 for a gallon of gas and $99 for a case of water — are spiking in areas of Texas most affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Texas attorney general’s office said Thursday that it has received more than 500 complaints of price-gouging.

RELATED: Animals being rescued during Hurricane Harvey

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Animals being rescued during Hurricane Harvey
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Animals being rescued during Hurricane Harvey
A man carries a dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A boy hugs his grandmothers' dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Volunteers and officers from the neiborhood security patrol help to rescue residents and their dogs in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood after it was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27 2017: Elma Moreno comforts her dog, Simon as they are loaded on to a trucks after being evacuated from their flooded apartment. Tropical Storm Harvey is causing major flooding throughout Houston and Southeast Texas. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A man carries a dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey at the Highland Glen housing development in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bentley, a 10 year old maltese, takes refuge with his owner in a school after they lost their home to Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Pets are evacuated from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
People and their pets are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on a boat in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Kenneth and Minnie Bice prepare to sleep outside the M.O. Campbell Red Cross shelter in Aldine, Texas, United States August 28, 2017. Pets are not allowed inside and so the two are sleeping on the portico with their two dogs and a cat. REUTERS/Peter Henderson
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Residents carry their pets and belongings along Mercury Drive as they flee flood water at their homes in Houston, TX on Sunday, Aug 27, 2017. Rising water from Hurricane Harvey pushed thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground Sunday in Houston. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Flood victims move crates with pets at a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People check in with their pets to a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuation residence from the Meyerland area are loaded onto a truck on an I-610 overpass during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuation residents from the Meyerland wait on an I-610 overpass for further help during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water, remnants of Hurricane Harvey, on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Evacuees make their way to dry land after leaving their homes that were inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A vet holds a dog at a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: People evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Most complaints have cited prices ranging from $6 to $8 a gallon for gas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a warning in response to gas stations against any attempt to take advantage of Harvey victims.

"Texas law protects consumers from fraud in Dallas and other parts of Texas outside of the governor’s declared disaster areas," Marc Rylander, communications director for the attorney general’s office, said. “If Dallas consumers are victims of fraud by gas stations, we urge them to contact our agency’s consumer protection hotline so that we can investigate and take appropriate action.” 

The agency is looking into nine cases so far but expects more, according to CNN, and gas is far from the only issue.

One convenience store in Houston reportedly charged $20 for a gallon of gas, $8.50 for a water bottle, and $99 for a case of water, the attorney general's office said.

At a Best Western hotel in Robstown, near where Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, rooms more than doubled in price after the hurricane, the AG’s office told Austin television station KXAN Thursday. A crew from the station booked a room and was charged $321.89, including taxes, a night. (The normal price is $119 a night.)

Best Western spokeswoman Kelly Dalton said in a statement that the hotel's guests have been reimbursed and the company is severing ties with the Robstown location, describing the price-gouging as "egregious and unethical."

Mark Elliott, president at the nonprofit research firm Mobility, tweeted a receipt from Thursday of a Chevron gas station in Encinal, Texas that appeared to charge $9.99 per gallon for regular fuel. 

When Business Insider called the Encinal fuel stop Saturday morning, employee April Garcia said she could not confirm Thursday's price, because she was not working at the time. The store's manager was also not available for comment.

The price at the stop is now $2.99 per gallon, and two stations across the street are priced at $2.45 per gallon, Garcia said on Saturday.

 

Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached new highs for 2017, hitting $2.59 on Saturday, up from $2.45 on Thursday, according to the AAA motor club.

 

Gas prices will likely continue to climb. One of the most important pipelines that ships refined products to the Eastern Seaboard shut down on Thursday, which means that the US Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast could see supply disruptions and price increases in coming weeks.

 

Near Dallas, gas pumps at several stations in areas like Denton, McKinney and Little Elm are experiencing gas shortages, according to CBS News. Most North Texas gas stations are not expected to completely run out of gas, but costs are projected to rise from the shortages. Gas prices in the region have increased nearly 20 cents from before the storm, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

 

Price-gouging is not unusual in the wake of large natural disasters, like Harvey.

 

Areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy saw similar reports. During Sandy, some analysts made the case for price-gouging, arguing that laws against it exacerbates shortages and complicates preparedness. Others have called it immoral and "reverse-looting."

 

Below are reports of Harvey price-gouging in Texas from social media (some are unconfirmed):

 

$20 per gallon for regular gas in Charlotte, Texas:

 

 

 


 

$8 per gallon for gas in Garland, Texas:

 

 

 


 

$9.99 per gallon for gas in Dallas, Texas:

 

 

 


 

$35 per gallon in another area of Texas:

 

 

 


 

$17.99 for a case of water in Houston, Texas:

 

 

 


 

See Also:

SEE ALSO: This incredible map lets you explore Texas before and after Harvey's flooding

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