New York State’s Price Gouging Law prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an ”abnormal disruption of the market”, according to the Ulster County District Attorney’s Division of Consumer Affairs. The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, and taxi and livery cab drivers.
New York’s price gouging law takes effect only upon occurrence of triggering events that cause an “abnormal disruption of the market”. This is defined as “any change in the market, whether actual or imminently threatened,” that results from triggering events such as “weather events, power failures, strikes, civil disorder, war, military action, national or local emergency, or other causes.” During an abnormal disruption of the market like Hurricane Sandy, all parties within the chain of distribution for any essential consumer goods or services are prohibited from charging unconscionably excessive prices.
“Consumer goods” are defined by the statute as “those used, bought or rendered primarily for personal, family or household purposes.” For example, gasoline, which is vital to the health, safety and welfare of consumers, is a “consumer good” under the terms of the statute. Therefore, retailers may not charge unconscionably excessive prices for gasoline during an abnormal disruption of the market.
For further information, visit www.ag.ny.gov/price-gouging. Consumer Affairs can be reached at 340-3260.