Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Blackout: San Diego authorities warn of price gouging

September 9, 2011 |  9:56 pm


Authorities in San Diego are warning residents to beware of price gouging following this week’s massive blackout that left more than 4 million without power.

“Unfortunately, some individuals use a time of crisis to take advantage of others,” San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie M. Dumanis said in a statement Friday.

“We want people to know consumer rights and legal protections are in place when San Diego is in a state of emergency, as it was [Thursday]. We also want businesses to know that the district attorney’s office will hold price gougers accountable,” Dumanis said.

PHOTOS: Blackout leaves millions without power

Price gouging is a term generally used to describe the artificial inflation of the costs of essential goods and services when people are most desperate. According to the statement, businesses are prohibited from increasing those costs -- once a state of emergency has been declared -- by “more than 10% unless they can prove it was due to an increase in their supplier’s price.”

The regulation applies to consumer food and medical supplies, among other items.

The statement also noted that it is a misdemeanor offense for a hotel to increase its regular rates in the 30 days after a state of emergency proclamation.

Dumanis urged residents who suspect price gouging to call (619) 531-3115.


FULL COVERAGE: Southern California blackout

Arizona power company baffled by events that led to outage

Power company employee caused massive blackout, utility says

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Neighbors gather around a fire during Thursday's massive power outage.

Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times