Long Island Hotel Cited For Price Gouging
Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with a Long Island hotel accused of price gouging in the days immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Days Inn/Hicksville raised its room rates as much as 185 percent immediately following the attacks, forcing stranded consumers to pay significantly more than expected for a hotel room. This action was regarded as a clear violation of New York's anti-price gouging law.
"No business should profit from tragedy," Spitzer said.
Spitzer's investigation determined that in the days following the September 11th attacks, some room rates at the Days Inn/Hicksville were raised from the posted rate of $139 to as much as $399.
One consumer who was visiting Long Island for the funeral of a family member was incensed when Days Inn/Hicksville suddenly raised the price of his room. This consumer was stranded when air travel in New York was curtailed as a security precaution following the attacks.
Nationwide, thousands of commercial airline flights were cancelled, leaving many consumers in need of housing accommodations.
Spitzer noted that a state of emergency was declared in New York following the terrorist attacks. The New York State price gouging law specifically prohibits "unconscionably excessive" prices for consumer goods and services vital and necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers during an abnormal disruption of the market resulting in a state of emergency. Hotel lodging is considered a vital service during a state of emergency.
In settling the case, Days Inn/Hicksville agreed to make refunds to all consumers who were overcharged and to pay $9,500 in civil penalties and court costs.
Individuals who stayed at Days Inn/Hicksville and believe they were the victims of price gouging are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or at (212) 416-8300 for out-of-state consumers.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Juan Merchan of the Nassau Regional Office and Matthew Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.