Thousands were fleeing Harvey. This Texas hotel started nearly tripling room prices | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Because people are calling to take rooms,” the clerk said, according to KXAN, adding that “we need to (inaudible) the price. I don’t have any control on the price.”

The next morning, the TV crew again confronted a hotel clerk. They got a clerk to confirm that room rates were normally around $119 a night—but they still couldn’t get an explanation for why rates had skyrocketed.

“It’s not that I’m jacking up the price, it’s because I have no control over that,” the clerk said. And the clerk also confirmed that 18 other hotel guests paid the much higher rate of $289 before tax, just like the TV crew.

Hotels aren’t the only ones guilty of price gouging as Houston grapples with continued rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years. Over the weekend, more than 500 complaints of price gouging were lodged with the Texas attorney general’s office, according to CNBC—including $99 cases of bottled water, gas at $10 a gallon and hotels tripled or quadrupled in price.

“These are things you can’t do in Texas,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNBC in an interview Monday. “There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this.”

While interviewing Attorney General Paxton on Sunday, the KXAN TV crew handed over the invoice the hotel had given them, which Paxton had his office start looking into.

“We had a team go out immediately and we found out there was some truth to the claim that there was price gouging going on at the hotel,” Deputy Attorney General Jim Davis told KXAN on Monday.

It only took three hours for Davis’ team to discover that 39 other Best Western Plus guests faced similar price gouging, according to KXAN, and the hotel promised the attorney general’s office it would refund guests the amount it charged them above normal rates.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts told KXAN that it told its hotels not to price gouge, and was working to resolve the problem.

Read complete article here:

Thousands were fleeing Harvey. This Texas hotel started nearly tripling room prices | Fort Worth Star-Telegram.