In the wake of various hurricanes this season, Alabama business owners should be aware of the state’s price gouging law. The most recent warning about this was issued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall during and after Hurricane Nate.
The law, which goes into effect whenever the governor declares a state of emergency, bans “unconscionable pricing” of goods for sale or rent. While state law doesn’t state specifically what is an “unconscionable price,” the press release from Marshall’s office says that a price that is 25 percent or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days is a prima facie case of unconscionable pricing. Exceptions are when price increases of this level can be attributed to a reasonable cost.
Businesses who violate this law will be fined up to $1,000 per violation, and a company found to be willfully and continuously violating the law may be prohibited from doing business in the state going forward.
Illegal price gouging can be reported to the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection at 1-800-392-5658, www.ago.alabama.gov, or 501 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36130.