You often hear it and wonder why it is done- the Governor and Mayors across the State of Florida declare a “state of emergency” even before the storm arrives. One major benefit is this declaration activates Florida’s price gouging law, which is a very important consumer protection which occurred as a result of the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Andrew disaster in August 1992.
People stock up on gas, food and home protection supplies such as generators, plywood and flashlights. Florida’s price gouging law bans unconscionable prices in the rental and sale of essential commodities during the state of emergency. It also governs services such as tree removal, roof repairs, lodging, water extraction, and other general dwelling repairs.
The one problem? The law defines an illegal overcharge as one which is “grossly” an overcharge, so it is not as well defined as we would like, but the Attorney General has been very active in investigating and fining companies who do this to consumers.
If you become a victim, or witness a price gouging incident during a state of emergency, please report it to one of the hotlines established by the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.The Attorney General Hotline is 1-866-966-7226. The Consumer Services Hotline is 1-800-435-7352.