The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued subpoenas to 65 businesses across the state Friday after more than 500 consumer complaints about alleged price gouging.
"Having seen firsthand the suffering people are experiencing, I assure New Jersey's residents and retailers that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to price gouging," said Governor Christie. "We are not asking businesses to function as charities. We require that they obey New Jersey's laws – or pay significant penalties."
Attorney General Chiesa noted that the Division has received allegations of price gouging from all regions of the state, with complaints particularly prominent in Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Passaic counties. The top complaint categories are:
-Gasoline, with gas prices in some cases allegedly rising by $1 or more per gallon immediately following the storm, in some cases allegedly exceeding $5 per gallon. The Division has also received complaints about gas stations charging more to fill up hand-held canisters than to fill car gas tanks, in apparent violation of state Motor Fuels Act protections related to fuel prices.
-Generators, Batteries and Non-Gasoline Fuels such as propane; with generator prices allegedly doubling from pre-storm prices.
-Food, including reports of unexpectedly high prices at convenience stores and restaurants in certain areas, affecting consumers who are unable to cook a hot meal at home due to power outages.
-Lodging, including complaints about hotels and motels significantly raising their prices, allegedly for rooms that were rented at much lower rates before the storm.
Consumers who suspect price gouging or any other violation of consumer protection laws, particularly as a result of Hurricane Sandy, are urged to call the Division of Consumer Affairs at (800) 242-5846.
June 19 is National Dine Out Day. Restaurants and vendors across the country are contributing a percentage of their revenues for the day to the NJ Relief Fund to benefit Superstorm Sandy victims.