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New Jersey business dispute: Gov. warns about price gouging

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has had a hotline set up for consumers to call and report instances of price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If consumers at a business dispute their prices as being excessive, they are encouraged to call the hotline to report the business. Governor Christie has said that every complaint will be investigated.

According to the New Jersey statutes, price gouging is illegal during a state of emergency and 30 days thereafter. Any price increase above 10 percent is defined as price gouging. The only exceptions are markups due to higher costs to the merchant due to supplier or logistical issues. Penalties include a $10,000 fine for the first offense and $20,000 for each additional offense, and each transaction is considered a separate offense.

It is an unfortunate truth that there are some dishonest businessmen out there who will attempt to take advantage of people in a crisis. However, most businesses are forced to pass on their costs to the consumer even in a time of crisis. A legitimate business can get dragged into the system even if they haven't done anything wrong.

In order to combat this type of business dispute, a business may protect themselves by keeping detailed records of everything. Being able to substantiate a price increase is easier if good records are maintained. If a business does find itself the subject of a price gouging complaint, it may be a good idea to seek advice and assistance in dealing with any investigation as well as any charges or fines which result.

Source:, "Hotlines Established To Report Price Gouging," Oct. 31, 2012

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