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Texans complain of possible price gouging at hotels amid winter storm

The Texas Office of the Attorney General encourages people to report suspected price gouging cases to their office for possible investigation.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some people in Austin have started complaining about possible price gouging happening in our area, specifically with the cost of hotel rooms.

The Texas Office of the Attorney General is the agency that investigates those complaints.

A spokesperson for the AG’s Office can’t confirm how many complaints they’re investigating as of Tuesday, but KVUE wants to make sure you know how to spot and report price gouging cases you might encounter.

There are three ways to file a price gouging complaint with the AG’s office.

You can email complaints to consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov or call the consumer protection hotline at 800-621-0508 to make a report.

You can also fill out the 13-step online complaint form, which can be found using this link.

But it’s important to note high prices alone don’t necessarily mean it’s price gouging.

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Here’s what a spokesperson for the AG’s Office told KVUE can qualify as price gouging:

“Please note that high prices alone do not mean that price gouging has taken place, as businesses are generally allowed to determine the price for their products. However, if a disaster has been declared by the Governor of Texas and businesses raise the price of their products to exorbitant or excessive rates to take advantage of the disaster declaration, then it is quite likely that price gouging is taking place, and a complaint should be filed with our office concerning the incident.”

Several people have reported possible price gouging at a South Austin hotel on social media, including KVUE’s Bryan Mays.

A spokesperson for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts sent the following statement addressing the claims of price gouging at that location:

“We do not tolerate price gouging and require that hotels comply with all local, state and federal laws. In speaking with the owner of this hotel, which is independently owned and operated as a franchise, it’s our understanding that the temporary rate increases seen online were the result of the property working to close out its inventory as it managed the loss of power and other utilities. We have since been assured that no guests were charged, nor was there any intent to charge, the rates shown. While the hotel is not accepting new reservations, guests currently staying at the property are being allowed to extend their stay at no additional cost while they wait for conditions to improve.”

Price-gougers could have to reimburse customers and could be held liable for civil penalties, which could be even more serious if the victims were seniors.

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