As Arkansans continue to recover from the recent historic flooding, some businesses may try to take advantage of consumers by raising prices beyond legal limits, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
Arkansas’s price-gouging law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services.
“I will hold any business accountable that takes advantage of flood victims by illegally overcharging for needed supplies,” Rutledge said. “Businesses must follow the law and find a balance between supply and demand when pricing goods and services following a declared state of emergency.”
Rutledge released the following tips to avoid price gouging:
• Shop around before purchasing goods or services, especially for post-disaster home repairs.
• Avoid “drive-by” quotes from door-to-door solicitors.
• When possible, deal with established, reputable businesses in the community.
• Always get estimates and price quotes in writing.
The price-gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, state or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days on goods or services related to the emergency (e.g., medical supplies, storage services, motor fuel, etc.) and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body, if needed. For home repair and cleanup services, the law remains in effect for 180 days. The scope of the law is broad and is intended to cover anything that may be needed in the event of a state of emergency, according to the news release.
While the law sets a general 10 percent cap on price increases during an emergency, businesses may lawfully charge a higher price if they can establish that the higher price is directly attributable to additional costs incurred by the retailer, by its supplier, or as the result of additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the goods or service. In such a limited situation, the business may charge no more than 10 percent above the total of the cost to the business, in addition to the markup which would customarily be applied by the business for the goods or service, according to the release.
For details and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or email@example.com or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.