AG warns against price gouging, unfair business practices

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

The North Carolina attorney general is warning customers against price gouging and unfair business practices.

State laws against price gouging and unfair business practices remain in effect, Attorney General Roy Cooper reminded towing companies Friday as consumers reported high towing fees.

“Bad weather isn’t an excuse to jack up prices and rip off consumers,” Cooper said. “If you think you’re being charged too much for towing, let us know about it.”

Some drivers forced to abandon their cars by this week’s winter storm are now finding that the cars have been towed and they face hefty towing fees. More than a dozen consumers from across the state have called Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division to report being charged too much for towing. Some consumers are reporting charges of $400 or more compared to normal towing rates of closer to $100 to $150.

As the snow and ice begin to melt, some of the trees damaged during the storm may need to be removed.

But Cooper wants you to watch out for those who may take advantage of you.

He says you should make sure to use a reputable tree removal service.

To avoid issues, he advises people to make sure the company is insured, don’t pay up front and don’t let anyone rush you.

Consumers who believe they are being overcharged for vehicle towing or storage should file a complaint with Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division online at www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.

Cooper’s office will evaluate towing complaints to see if companies are breaking any laws.

Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor.

North Carolina’s price gouging law is currently in effect due to a state of emergency declared Tuesday, and state law against unfair and deceptive trade practices are always in effect. Both laws are enforced by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and can be used to win refunds for consumers as well as civil penalties.

Click for complete resource guide to snowstorm 2014.