BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When you’re already at your limit preparing for potentially dangerous weather to roll into your area, seeing prices on the goods you need to get you through the storm soaring above the amount you normally pay for them can be enough to put you over the edge.
When it is intentional, it’s called price gouging. Louisiana has zero-tolerance laws to bring those who participate in the act to justice.
Louisiana law dictates once a state of emergency is declared by the governor or a parish president, increasing prices for goods and services to be higher than the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods and services is considered price gouging.
Products commonly associated with price gouging include goods and services necessary for use as a direct result of the state of emergency, such as gasoline or diesel fuel of any grade, hotels, motels, and generators.
There are exceptions, of course. Price gouging does not include verifiable market fluctuations, meaning product shortages, rig and refinery shutdowns, and changes influenced by global markets are reasons businesses can raise their prices, according to state law. Additionally, price gouging bans only remain in effect for up to 30 days after the state of emergency ends.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of price gouging, contact the Office of the Louisiana Attorney by calling 1-800-351-4889.
Help law enforcement investigate your price gouging report by including the following:·
- Receipts for the purchase, as well as any recent receipts from the same merchant that show the price difference
- Location of the merchant
- Date of the purchase
- Cost of the goods or services
Courts may impose a civil penalty and where appropriate order restitution for consumers. Additionally, price gouging statute is a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to $500.00, 6 months imprisonment, or both; imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 5 years where there is any serious bodily injury or any property damage in excess of $5,000.00; and imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 21 years where a willful violation results in the death of any person.