Price gouging law in effect in 33 counties due to Hurricane Hermine, Attorney General Cooper says
RALEIGH, NC (September 1, 2016)…As Hurricane Hermine approaches, Attorney General Roy Cooper encouraged consumers to report price gouging and learn about their rights if the weather interrupts their Labor Day vacation plans, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“In the threat of a hurricane, make sure you know your rights as a consumer,” Cooper said. “State laws provide protection against price gouging and for consumers with vacations interrupted by storms.”
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 33 counties in the eastern part of North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, and Wayne counties.
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.
Families renting vacation homes in North Carolina this holiday weekend can avoid potential problems from impending weather 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 in advance of Hurricane Hermine 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 on North Carolina’s coast this Labor Day weekend could see their plans affected by Hurricane Hermine and should contact the hotel right away.
If you paid in advance, your eligibility for a refund will likely depend on the hotel’s cancellation 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.