Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Pam Bondi publicly rips price gougers

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Some 4,000 Floridians have called in complaints over price gouging since Monday as residents shop and travel in preparation for Hurricane Irma, Attorney General Pam Bondi said Thursday.

The worst offenders in the Tampa area are 7-Eleven convenience stores, she said, earning nearly 40 complaints this week.

"Shame on you if you're trying to gouge someone (for) water, food, baby supplies," Bondi said, addressing media at an office where staffers process the complaints.

During a state of emergency, Florida companies can't sell essential commodities — like food, water or emergency generators — at a price that "grossly exceeds" its average price for the previous 30 days.

"You can't take advantage of your fellow Floridians," Bondi said. "You can't do that. And shame on anybody who would want to do that, who wants to make an extra buck and hurt people who are trying to get out of our state."

The state can charge a one-time violator $1,000, and repeat offenders may have to pay up to $25,000.

"We can hurt you financially, but we can also destroy your reputation by telling everybody that you're bad and telling everybody not to shop at your business," Bondi said.

One loophole store owners exploit is selling cases of water for how much it would cost if they were to sell each bottle individually, rather than in bulk, which could be legal, but is definitely immoral, the attorney general said.

Representatives of 7-Eleven could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier Thursday, Bondi had taken to Fox News to criticize Chevron, the source of about 45 complaints already. She said later that she had spoken with representatives from the company, who told her they would pressure individual store owners to keep prices reasonable.

One senior in Deerfield Beach called the Attorney General's Office complaining that a home health care service jacked up prices from $20 an hour to $30, said Bob Follis, the staffer who spoke to the senior.

Bondi said the state is staffed with 50 full-time employees fielding calls and 60 additional volunteers. They are now getting about 100 complaints an hour, and is glad the word seems to be spreading.

"My goal is to fix it. My goal is to make sure everyone has a hotel, people have water, people have fuel at a reasonable cost so they can get out of town."

Anyone who sees potential price gouging can call the office's hotline, tollfree, at 1-866-966-7226.

Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor.

Comments
A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all sinister toys are as obvious as a Chucky doll. Many present more subtle threats — choking hazards, high lead content, privacy concerns. And as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, consumer advocates are urging s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice. Under court order, the industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

TAMPAIt’s been more than a century since Ybor City’s first public school was demolished on the plot of land now identified as 1311 E Eighth Ave.For the past 22 years, the popular concert venue New World Brewery took up the space and one next door. No...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s perimeter, where Fo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

TAMPA — Panama’s Copa Airlines, which four years ago became the first airline to offer service between Panama and Tampa Bay, said it is increasing its nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Panama City to daily flights starting in Ju...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Updated: 10 hours ago
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17
Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Pinellas County home sales took another hurricane-related hit in October as the rest of the Tampa Bay area bounced back from Hurricane Irma.But while prices in all four counties rose once again, the rate of increase continues to slow. Hillsborough’s...
Updated: 9 hours ago