Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Warns Against Storm Related Price-Gouging

Press Release Date:  Monday, May 03, 2010  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway is putting Kentucky businesses on notice that price-gouging will not be tolerated during times of emergency. Gov. Steve Beshear today declared a state of emergency in the wake of this weekend’s severe thunderstorms that resulted in flooding and widespread damage across the Central and Eastern parts of Kentucky. Additionally, four deaths were also blamed on the severe weather.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones as a result of the severe weather," said General Conway. "Be assured, my office stands ready to investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks excessive profits during emergency situations. Those who have fallen victim to this storm should not be victimized again by unscrupulous price-gougers."

The emergency declaration issued by Gov. Beshear triggers several consumer protection measures that will remain in place for 30 days. Among them, it empowers the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, those who sell gasoline, generators, building supplies, chain saws, hotel rooms and other necessary goods and services at a price grossly in excess of the prices at the time of the emergency declaration unless the sellers costs increased as well.

Attorney General Conway provides the following tips to consumers needing storm repair or clean up services:

  • Never pay in advance for repair work or materials. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work. If an advance is needed to purchase materials, offer to purchase the materials yourself;
  • Use local, reputable contractors for repairs, if possible. If local contractors bring in out-of-town workers, ask who will be responsible for their work if it is not satisfactory;
  • Ask if the contractor is licensed, bonded (if required by the city or county), and insured;
  • Check unknown companies out with the Better Business Bureau (Louisville/Western KY 1-800-388-2222; Lexington/Eastern KY 1-800-866-6668) or call the Consumer Protection Division 1-888-432-9257 to see if information is available about the company;
  • Demand a written contract. If possible, get estimates from several contractors;
  • Be suspicious of unfamiliar, out-of-state vehicles and those who offer repair work at unreasonably low prices. Contact local law enforcement about your suspicions.

Mold remediation is also a concern for victims of flooding. Public health concerns associated with water damage include mold mitigation and prevention, carbon monoxide exposure and proper food handling and storage. For more information visit http://tinyurl.com/2bb74ys

Kentuckians should utilize the following tips if their vehicles have suffered water damage.

  • Check your oil. A reading of an oil level that is too high may indicate water in the engine. Do not start or run your car, it could cause severe damage. Contact your insurance company immediately. Comprehensive coverage of a vehicle includes losses other than collision, such as flood, fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects and colliding with animals.
  • If you have a car loan, notify your lender of the damage.
  • Act quickly to determine the vehicle’s current NADA average prior to the flood damage. Owners will need to know this when dealing with an insurance provider, and perhaps, in dealing with any lender.
  • Determine how high the flood water reached on your vehicle. If the water reached the midpoint of the tire, there may be severe damage to electrical systems generally located along the bottom of the floor. Some experts consider the vehicle a total loss if this area is flooded.

Attorney General Monitoring Gas Prices in Wake of Storms

Attorney General Conway and his Office of Consumer Protection are monitoring gas prices in the wake of this weekend’s storms.

"My Office of Consumer Protection has already begun receiving calls from consumers complaining about an increase in gas prices and we are monitoring prices for any potential violations," said General Conway. "I encourage anyone with specific information regarding possible price-gouging to email pricecomplaints@ag.ky.gov or call my Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257."

A price-gouging investigation by General Conway in the wake of the September 2009 windstorm in Kentucky resulted in recoveries of more than $100,000 involving eight retail stations in seven different Kentucky counties.