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Oregon prosecutors want to hear your tales of hotel price gouging

PGE contractors from DJ's Electrical in Portland repair a transformer box on a power pole on Southeast Madison Street near Southeast 17th Avenue in Portland, Feb. 16, 2021.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
PGE contractors from DJ's Electrical in Portland repair a transformer box on a power pole on Southeast Madison Street near Southeast 17th Avenue in Portland, Feb. 16, 2021.

State prosecutors in Oregon say they are watching for price gouging following the major ice storm that felled trees and left more than half a million homes and businesses without power.

On Monday, Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive orderdeclaring an abnormal disruption on the market. She said her office has received reports of people experiencing excessive lodging rates as they sought a warm place to stay.

Now Oregon Department of Justice lawyers want to hear from people who believe they were victimized.

Oregon law makes it illegal to sell goods or services at an “unconscionably excessive price” after the governor has declared a disruption in the normal market for those goods or services.

State law typically defines “unconscionably excessive” as 15% or more higher than the normal going rate, and it covers a wide variety of essential items and services, including basic supplies such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer and more seemingly nonessential services that can be life-saving in an emergency, including hotel and motel rooms.

Anyone who may have experienced price gouging should report the incidents to the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Hotline, 877-877-9392.

Hotels in the regions hardest hit by the winter storm were full over the weekend and early this week, a stark contrast to the struggles the hospitality industry has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

OPB Staff