When Irene struck Connecticut with a fury - knocking out power to more than three-quarters of a million people - many in the state looked to help their neighbors as much as they could.
They offered supplies, their homes, their money…whatever people needed to get by.
But there are those we commonly refer to as opportunists who look to make a buck off of people even in the most trying times. Many of them are the store owners who jack up the price of goods that are hard to come by because they know you have no choice in most cases but to pay them.
These people are known as "price gougers," and they have caught the attention of state officials who are looking to crack down on this illegal activity. (See news release below). And even before the storm, Patch was prepared for the possibility of gouging.
Editors in the Southwest Connecticut Patch towns went to stores in the region before and after the storm scoping out prices in an attempt to catch those who try to take advantage of the people in our towns.
So far, we’re glad to report, we’ve found no obvious signs of gouging.
However, people all over the state are calling into radio stations complaining about gouging, especially for items on online sites such as Craig’s List.
If you feel like you’ve been a victim of price gouging, or if you see prices that are considered high, please let us know. We will look into it.
You can e-mail your concerns to Oxford Patch editor Paul Singley at email@example.com. He will look into all concerns.
Also, the news release below about state officials looking into gouging has information about what to do and who to call if you suspect gouging.
Patch SW Connecticut team
From the office of Attorney General George Jepsen
HARTFORD, August 26 -- With Hurricane Irene set to strike Connecticut this weekend, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is announcing an imminent abnormal market disruption in energy resources under Connecticut General Statutes Section 42-234, putting wholesalers, retailers and consumers on notice that charging unconscionably excessive prices for gasoline, heating fuels and other energy resources is prohibited.
Under the notice, posted today on the Attorney General’s website atwww.ct.gov/ag/site/default.asp , the abnormal market disruption period began at 1 p.m. today and runs through midnight, Wednesday Aug. 31, unless otherwise amended.
“Consumers need to be aware that in times of anticipated market disruption on energy products, some unscrupulous market players may seek to extract excessive profits from consumers,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “If anyone suspects excessive profiteering, they should report it as described below. My office and the Department of Consumer Protection will monitor the market and consumer complaints, will act accordingly to halt any such practices, and seek penalties as needed against violators.”
“During this life-threatening emergency, we expect everyone to act responsibly in order to protect themselves, their families, their homes, and their businesses,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “To that end, we will examine very closely any reported instances of unconscionably excessive pricing, and will act swiftly and determinedly to rectify the matter.”
Anyone wishing to report what they believe to be profiteering or unconscionably excessive pricing on gasoline or other fuels during the abnormal market period is urged to contact the Department of Consumer Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the business name, its location, and the prices you observed. Persons may also call the Department’s Hotline at 1-800-842 2649 during business hours and at 860-713-6160 after hours and on the weekend.
Commissioner Rubenstein encouraged consumers to be prudent in the amount of gasoline they purchase during this time period.
“Everyone will benefit if consumers don’t rush out to buy all the fuel they can,” Rubenstein said. “By alleviating the stress on supply, the market should remain more stable.”
Attorney General Jepsen and Commissioner Rubenstein thanked the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association for drawing attention to this issue.
CONTACT: Susan E. Kinsman, Office of the Attorney General; email@example.com;860-808-5324; 860-478-9581 (cell)
Claudette Carveth, Department of Consumer Protection; firstname.lastname@example.org; 860-713-6022