Consumers urged to report potential price gouging
HONOLULU — Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Bruce Kim informed the public Thursday that there is a price cap in effect for commodities in conjunction with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s disaster declaration.
The statewide emergency has triggered statutory price caps on selling prices at pre-emergency levels for all commodities, including food, water, ice, gasoline, cooking fuel, batteries, and generators. Any price increase of these and other commodities since severe weather warnings began through at least Aug. 16, 2014, is a violation of state law and merchants found in violation may be subject to severe fines and penalties.
“The Office of Consumer Protection will investigate complaints and prosecute any offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” Kim said. “It is also important for consumers to follow through with providing the information.”
If merchants have unknowingly raised prices during this period, they may avoid a violation by: rolling back prices to the appropriate level, and putting a restitution program in place to return any excessive payments resulting from the illegal price increases to consumers.
If consumers believe they paid increased prices for merchandise, they are advised to: keep their receipts and/or other records of the sale, and report any instances of price gouging by emailing email@example.com. Also, include: name of business; location of business; what was being purchased and any additional info on the item; and name and contact number of caller.
Consumers can call the DCCA’s Consumer Resource Center between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays by calling 587-4272 or 587-3295 from Oahu. Big Island residents can also call the center at 974-4000, followed by 7-4272 and the # sign.
An electronic copy of OCP’s complaint is available on its website at cca.hawaii.gov/ocp.
During regular business hours, consumers may call 587-4272 at the Consumer Resource Center to obtain a complaint form and file a formal complaint. OCP educates and protects consumers from unlawful acts or practices by companies, which may cause harm to consumers. For more information, call the OCP at 586-2636.