Over 3,000 price gouging complaints have rolled into Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office since Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency earlier this week.
“That’s sickening. It’s disgusting. It’s unacceptable, and we are not going to have it,” Bondi told reporters during a Hurricane Irma press conference.
Under Florida law, a store owner could be fined $1,000 per price gouging complaint, with a maximum penalty of $25,000. “I can also, and will destroy their reputation,” Bondi said of price gouging offenders.
In Florida, price gouging is illegal for essential items only, and does not include airline tickets.
According to the Attorney General’s Office however, that has not stopped people from filing price gouging complaints on flights out of Florida.
Hurricane Supply Kit Checklist | Things to know before the storm | Preparations for your pets | Power outage maps & resources | Know your evacuation zone | Price gouging: How to protect yourself and report it | Insurance protection: Video tape home inventory | Tampa Bay sandbag locations | Find a hurricane shelter near you | Hurricane Irma Emergency Phone Numbers | Evacuations underway | Closures and Alerts | Storm Surge Map
While Bondi’s office cannot technically fine airlines for price gouging (since they are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration), she told reporters she did put in a few important calls.
According to Bondi, after she spoke to Delta representatives, the airline capped one-way flights out of South Florida at $399. JetBlue also followed in similar suit.
“I do not regulate these airlines, but i am going to protect Floridians, and I have the White House on standby if they aren't doing their jobs,” Bondi said.
Other stores like Amazon and Home Depot have tried to curb price gouging as quickly as possible.
Amazon suspended sellers looking to take advantage of people buying water online. According to Bondi, Home Depot have sold over 335,000 pieces of plywood, and have capped water prices at $2.97 a case.
The downside? Bondi told reporters her office is still looking at complaints filed during Hurricane Matthew, showing that price gouging accountability can take a long time to settle.
If you think you have been taken advantage of because of price gouging, save your receipt and call the Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM, or my visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.