First settlement reached in Irma price gouging

By News Service of Florida

Florida has reached its first price-gouging settlement after Hurricane Irma, with Attorney General Pam Bondi's office Tuesday announcing a $25,000 settlement with a hotel.

The state's price-gouging hotline received more than 7,500 complaints after the September hurricane, with the complaints focused on issues such as inflated prices for water, gas and hotels.

The settlement announced Tuesday was with the Miami Princess Hotel, after an investigation found room rates increased by up to 138 percent in the days following Irma.

The typical pre-storm rate had been $95 for a single room and $100 for a double room.

In addition to the settlement, Bondi said 10 more businesses, mostly hotels and gas stations, are under investigation for illegally inflating prices.

Bondi said that number is likely to increase in the coming weeks, and reaching final settlements will take time.

“We have to go back at least a month prior to the state of emergency and show that their prices were grossly inflated during a state of emergency,” Bondi said. “So, unless they are going to voluntarily comply and admit that they were wrong, we have to issue subpoenas.”

Customers who stayed at the Miami Princess Hotel during the time in question are eligible for refunds if they file complaints by early January.

News Service of Florida