Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi recently verbally condemned companies that were price gouging ahead of Hurricane Irma, including Florida’s 7-Eleven convenience stores.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida companies are not allowed to sell essential items like food, water, or emergency generators at a price that “grossly exceeds” their normal prices for the previous 30 days during a state of emergency. Despite this, many companies have taken advantage of the situation and have marked their items up tremendously, making it almost impossible for people to afford the necessities.
Several 7-Eleven stores were recently caught charging $30 for bottles of water just before Hurricane Irma made landfall. Although one-time violators could face a $1,000 fine, and repeat offenders could be made to pay upwards of $25,000, many companies are using an immoral loophole by selling cases of water for how much it would cost if they were to sell each bottle individually rather than in bulk. A store like 7-Eleven was one of these companies, and in just one week, Bondi received over 40 complaints from irate customers.
“Shame on you if you’re trying to gouge someone (for) water, food, baby supplies,” Bondi said in response to the complaints on Thursday. “You can’t take advantage of your fellow Floridians. You can’t do that. And shame on anybody who would want to do that, who wants to make an extra buck and hurt people who are trying to get out of our state.”
Bondi added that she would make sure to tell customers how these companies treated Florida’s citizens during the state of emergency, and would urge them to shop elsewhere.
“We can hurt you financially, but we can also destroy your reputation by telling everybody that you’re bad and telling everybody not to shop at your business,” Bondi said.
According to The Hill, 7-Eleven’s corporate office reached out after Bondi’s remarks saying that they do not condone the actions of their Florida stores.
“We do not condone the behavior identified by the Attorney General of Florida and are aggressively taking steps to resolve this issue with the identified stores,” the company said in a statement on Friday. “Franchisees are independent contractors and as such price the product in their stores independently. We are disappointed that the small minority of franchisees have chosen to do this and will harshly deal with any offenders. The majority of 7-Eleven franchisees stand ready to serve their communities during this difficult time.”
These 7-Elevens weren’t the only companies price gouging customers ahead of Hurricane Irma. Bondi said she also received 45 complaints against Chevron for selling essential items at a ridiculous price.
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