Thousands of Texans evacuated their homes and went to shelters and hotels as Hurricane Harvey unloaded an unprecedented amount of rain.
A TV crew from KXAN tried to get a room at a Best Western in Robstown, a small town just outside of Corpus Christi, but they discovered that the hotel was doing something very wrong.
Room rates for a two queen bed normally range from $120 to $149 a night, but the KXAN crew got charged nearly triple that. Reporter Wes Rapaport asked the clerk:
“What’s the total going to be?”
The clerk responded:
After a bit of a back-and-forth the clerk admitted to Rapaport that the hotel was charging more than it normally did:
“Because people are calling to take rooms, we need to (inaudible) the price. I don’t have any control on the price."
Deputy Attorney General Jim Davis looked into the matter and found that 39 other hotel guests had charges similar to the KXAN crew. Davis said:
"We later learned from our efforts that 40 people had been refunded — nearly immediately. We’re going to validate that and check for the rest of the story."
Best Western Hotels & Resorts released the following statement:
"In advance of the storm, we proactively advised hotels on prohibitions against price-gouging and communicated our position as a brand that compassion be exercised during this time of crisis."
Davis fears that other business could be price gouging flood victims, and for people to report it if they encounter it:
“We’re working hard to get quick closure and get the message out that: don’t break this law because we will find you and we’ll do our best to stop it."