Exclusive: Price gouging confession
Fri, 14 Nov 2008 13:26:18 GMT —
The Texas Attorney General's Office said more Rio Grande Valley hotels ripped off consumers after Hurricane Dolly in July.
The allegation? Price gouging.
Both the Best Western Las Palmas Inn at 609 East Expressway 83 in Mission and the Motel 6 at 205 N. U.S. Expressway 77 in Harlingen are accused of charging excessive or exorbitant rates in an attempt to illegally profit from a declared disaster.
In an exclusive interview with Action 4 News, a Motel 6 front desk clerk Edgar Granados said he not only knew about the price gouging but added how his manager ordered staff to knowingly raise the rates.
Ryan: Following Hurricane Dolly, they're accusing this establishment of raising rates by 20 percent or more... What do you think? Is that something you did? Was it something you didn't know?
Edgar: We knew we did it. But we have to do what the manager tells us to do."
He said those orders were to raise rates well above the price of a standard room.
According to the Attorney General's investigation, Motel 6 prices ballooned at 34 of 49 rooms.
Over at the Best Western in-question, it TMs reported nearly 100 percent of their rooms had raised rates.
Action 4 News asked Edgar Granados what he wanted to say to those who may have been ripped off.
"Sorry about what we did," he said. "We really had no choice...us in particular... the clerks."
But is the public apology, too late?
"The community goes through chaos and then raise the prices for the people... It's just unbelievable," said Valley resident Tino Belmontes.
Reaction from others was much the same.
"That's just pretty unfortunate that there'd be people in our community that would react like that," said Maggie Salinas.
Both businesses face fines ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It TMs proof an apology may not be enough afterall.
Motel 6 released the following statement about the Attorney General Office investigation:
"These are serious allegations and we are very concerned. Motel 6 adheres to all laws and regulations concerning consumers. This situation involves one of our franchised locations and we are currently investigating this matter."