Price gouging law in effect in 25 counties due to Western NC wildfires, Attorney General Cooper says
Release date: 11/10/2016
AG also offers tips for Veterans Day vacation plans impacted by fires
Raleigh: With wildfires burning in several western counties, Attorney General Roy Cooper today encouraged consumers to report price gouging in the area and learn about their rights if the fires interrupt their Veterans Day vacation plans.
“Firefighters are battling to control the blazes and we hope they’ll soon succeed,” Cooper said. “When emergencies like wildfires happen, North Carolina law protects you from price gouging. Let us know about anyone using these fires to make an unfair profit.”
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
Under a state of emergency declared today, the price gouging law is in effect in 25 counties across Western North Carolina: Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.
Cooper has enforced North Carolina’s price gouging law in the past to win thousands of dollars in refunds for consumers and penalties from violators. His office is currently investigating several businesses for possible price gouging due to Hurricane Matthew and gas pipeline problems.
Families renting vacation homes in the North Carolina mountains over the Veterans Day holiday weekend can avoid potential problems by reading rental agreements carefully and learning their protections under state law.
The Vacation Rental Act protects consumers who rent a property in North Carolina for fewer than 90 days. Consumers who have to cancel their rental plans due to wildfires should consult their rental agreement for details on how to cancel and whether or not they are entitled to any money back.
When renters sign a vacation rental agreement, the landlord may offer insurance for an additional fee to cover the cost of any nights missed due to a mandatory evacuation. If you’re ordered to evacuate and you were not given a chance to purchase insurance, state law requires that the landlord refund your money for each night you can’t stay at the rental property. If you were offered rental insurance and did not take it, the owner is not required to refund your money in case of a mandatory evacuation.
Consumers with hotel room reservations in North Carolina’s mountains this Veterans Day weekend who could see their plans affected by wildfires should contact their hotel right away.
If you paid in advance, your eligibility for a refund will likely depend on the hotel’s cancelation policy and your specific circumstances. For example, if the electricity is out at the hotel, or the rooms are uninhabitable or unsafe for any reason, then you should be entitled to get your money back.
To file a complaint about a North Carolina hotel, vacation rental, or potential price gouging incident, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or visit ncdoj.gov.
Contact: Noelle Talley