As Virginia prepares for an expected winter storm event, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia’s anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency.
Enacted in 2004, Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty day period following a declared state of emergency.
Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair materials and services, hotel rooms, and tree removal services. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.
“First and foremost, we should all take steps to prepare for a potentially significant winter storm event. I encourage consumers to be aware of their rights and encourage businesses to be aware of their responsibilities under the law,” said Attorney General Herring.
Violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Complaints should be reported for investigation to the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Section, with the exception of claims related to gasoline and motor fuel prices, which are handled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
If a consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging, they can call the Consumer Protection Hotline or download a complaint form from the Attorney General’s website and submit it in-person, by mail, or by fax. Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint.
Online Complaint Form: ag.virginia.gov
Office of the Attorney General of Virginia , Consumer Protection Section
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219