SAN ANTONIO — At 101 years young, Dorothy Maynard has seen her fair share of life. She lives with her grandson, Randy Anderson, and his family.
"We just wanted to get her shelter and keep her safe and keep the children warm," Anderson said.
During last month's brutal winter storm that resulted in massive electricity blackouts and left dozens dead across Texas, the family lost power and water. They needed to go somewhere safe.
"Any kind of cold could bring on pneumonia or any respiratory thing that could take grandma away from us," Anderson said.
The family of six booked two rooms at the La Quinta hotel off Goliad Road. On the third day, Anderson said a manager told them the prices were going up—by more than double.
"She said it was going from $74 bucks a night to a $199 a night," he said.
Anderson recorded the conversation with the manager and asked why the price jumped.
"She said it is like the airlines," Anderson said. "She said, 'I am like the airlines. I can change the prices when I want.' She said, 'What you have to understand is, there are a lot of people who want to come here and pay $199 right now.'"
The family said their pastor ended up paying more than $200 for each room for them.
"You don't treat people or have them in a desperate situation and squeeze more out of them because you can," Anderson said.
The family is now part of a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is suing the company that operates the San Antonio hotel. He claims La Quinta staff engaged in price-gouging by demanding and/or charging an exorbitant or excessive price for lodging.
In the lawsuit, the attorney general has similar claims from other families.
"The money was more important than human life," he said.
Anderson hopes this will be a lesson learned.
"Hopefully, it will make businesses and other people who feel like they can take advantage of someone because of a disaster, or because they are down on their luck—it will make them think," he said.
Anderson hopes for an apology from the manager.
KENS 5 called the company that operates the hotel; a man who claims he is an employee said they disagree with Paxton that they were engaging in price-gouging during a crisis. They declined KENS 5's request for an on-camera interview.
Below is Paxton's statement:
“This gross exploitation of Texans in dire need of shelter during historic low temperatures will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Companies looking to profit from this tragic event that left millions of Texans without power or water will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted.”