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Post date: February 14 2002

Spitzer Announces Price Gouging Case Against Buffalo Roofing Business

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that he has filed a price gouging lawsuit against a Buffalo roofing company for overcharging consumers during the Christmas week snow storm.

Spitzer has charged that Commercial Roofing billed consumers as much as six times the going rate to remove snow and ice from their roofs. The Attorney General is seeking over $25,000 in civil penalties, as well as restitution for the home owners.

The state's price gouging law prohibits businesses from charging "unconscionably excessive prices during periods of abnormal disruption of the market for consumer goods and services."

"Time and time again, especially during periods of rough weather, Buffalo has lived up to its name of the 'City of Good Neighbors.' Unfortunately, this could be called the case of the bad roofers," said Spitzer. "State law expressly prohibits businesses from taking advantage of consumers during times of emergency caused by Mother Nature, yet that is exactly what this company did. We are going to prosecute to the full extent of the law."

The Attorney General cites three specific acts of price gouging by Commercial Roofing:

  • On January 4th, 56 year old Susan Solender of Fox Point West in Williamsville contacted the company after her roof began to make noise under the strain of the snow. Without giving her an estimate, Commercial Roofing charged Mrs. Solender $4,860 for a job that should have cost $600-$800;
  • Yvonne Avriett, 63, of Avery Place in Cheektowaga, called the company on December 30th because of concerns that her roof was going to collapse. Without ever giving her an estimate, Commercial Roofing billed Ms. Avriett $1,350 for a job that should have cost between $400-$600. In addition, only half of her roof was cleared;
  • On December 31st, 73 year old Frank Monczynski of Abeles Avenue in Cheektowaga contacted the company after water from his roof began leaking into his home. He was charged $1,500 for a job that should have cost between $400-$600. In addition, the company damaged some of his shingles.
Commercial Roofing charged the consumers $180-$400 per man hour when the going hourly rate, even with overtime or holiday pay, would never exceed $75 per hour.

The price gouging statute carries a penalty of $10,000. In addition Spitzer is seeking an additional $10,000 which the law provides for consumer frauds directed against senior citizens . The lawsuit also seeks $500 for each of the three deceptive business practices, $2,000 in costs and restitution for the victims and for the company to post a $20,000 bond

"Like many people, these consumers were justifiably concerned that their roofs were going to collapse under the weight of the record-breaking snowfall," said Spitzer. "Commercial Roofing used the storm and the consumers' fears to take advantage of them and break the law. We are going to do everything we can to ensure that this company will not profit from its illegal actions."

Taking part in the news conference along with the Attorney General were Mr. Monczynski and Mrs. Solender.

Commercial Roofing lists its business address at 2316 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, but that is the location of a Mailboxes Etc. The case was filed in State Supreme Court in Buffalo.