Attorney General tells businesses: ‘If you price gouge, you’ll pay’

Warns vendors not to take advantage during snowstorm

January 3, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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If business owners are planning to triple their prices for food, gasoline, batteries and other items residents will need to get through Winter Storm Hercules, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has a message for them: Don’t even think about it!

Even before the snow storm started bearing down on New York Thursday night, Schneiderman issued an open letter to vendors and business owners warning against price gouging. He defined gouging as the inflation of the prices of necessary goods and services.

The state’s general business law prohibits increasing costs of essential items like food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights, or services like tree trimming or removal, emergency structure repairs, or snowplowing, during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market.

“Unfortunately, alongside acts of good will and kindness, a major storm like this also brings out bad actors who take advantage of their customers,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

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“Those who do so will ultimately see a reduction in their profits, and will be faced with penalties, fines and directives to set up reimbursement funds,” Schneiderman warned in his open latter.

The letter is addressed to New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, bodegas, gas stations, hardware stores, tree trimming/removal services, snowplowing services, taxi and livery cab drivers.

“New Yorkers will rely upon you for the items needed to prepare for, weather, and recover from the blizzard, as we all stock up on water, food – including staples such as bread and milk – batteries, de-icers, sand, generators, fuel and other essentials,” he wrote to business owners and vendors.

“As attorney general, it is my responsibility to enforce the price gouging law, and while it is my hope that I will not need to do so, my office is certainly prepared. We will review pricing data, and take such complaints filed with my office seriously, as we do with any matter,” Schneiderman warned. “I urge anyone who sees unwarranted spikes in the costs of anything, from bread and milk to snowplowing services, to report it to my office immediately.”

New Yorkers can contact the attorney general’s office to file complaints about potential price gouging activity online at


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