Monday, March 7, 2011

Printer Friendly

Texas Attorney General Resolves Cases Against Motels For Price Gouging During Hurricane Dolly

MCALLEN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today resolved five price-gouging cases he filed against South Texas motel operators for their improper conduct during Hurricane Dolly.

Each of the five defendants – Motel 6 – Harlingen, Best Western Las Palmas Inn, Comfort Inn – Edinburg, Comfort Inn – Pharr, and Country Hearth Inn & Suites Pharr/McAllen –entered into an agreed final judgment and permanent injunction. State investigators discovered that the defendants unlawfully increased the cost of their rooms after Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration as Hurricane Dolly approached Texas.

Media links
Final judgment against Motel 6 - Harlingen
Final judgment against Best Western Las Palmas Inn
Final Judgment against Comfort Inn - Edinburg
Final judgment against Comfort Inn - Pharr
Final judgment against Country Hearth Inn & Suites Pharr/McAllen

Under the agreed final judgment, the defendants agreed to pay civil penalties to the State and implement multiple changes to their business practices during a declared disaster. Specifically, the five motel operators are prohibited from charging or accepting excessive or exorbitant fees for accommodations during a disaster. The defendants must also post the daily room rate in each room and maintain a registration system that includes guests’ names, contact information, length of stay and rates charged per day.

Additionally, Motel 6 – Harlingen and Best Western Las Palmas Inn are prohibited from collecting hotel occupancy taxes from evacuees who are fleeing a disaster when such taxes are waived by the governor.

Under Texas law, when the governor declares a disaster, vendors are prohibited from raising prices to profit from the disaster. The attorney general is charged with enforcing the law’s prohibition on price-gouging during a declared disaster. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, vendors cannot sell or lease fuel, food, lodging, medicine or other necessities for excessive or exorbitant prices.