Houston woman claims hotel took advantage of her family during winter storm

Friday, February 26, 2021
Price gouging on the rise following deadly winter storm
This Houston woman says her family was taken advantage of in their time of need. Now, the BBB is also warning others as they've seen increase in price gouging complaints.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the winter storm pounded Houston, Stephanie Hendrick was quickly looking for a safe place to send her 94-year-old mother and sister to ride out the cold.

"You know there's no place for them to go. They have no water and power. My mom was freezing to death covered in blankets. So I thought let me help them out, get them to a hotel and this is what we ended up with," said Hendrick.

She told ABC13 she now has a bill for hundreds of dollars after two nights at a standard chain hotel.

"Originally, when I looked online for this hotel, it was listed at $66 a night. The general manager charged me $174 for the first night and the second night $174, and he said after that it would be $299 a night," Hendrick said.

But her family never stayed that third night. The hotel lost power and Hendrick's family was told to leave and never got an itemized receipt. But she does have her credit card statement.

"I finally received a bill from American Express for $457.16 for the two and half days. So, I really feel it was price gouging," said Hendrick.

There is a state law barring a price increase on emergency goods and services during a disaster declaration.

"The increase is supposed to be very minimal, if at all," said Dan Parsons with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston.

Parsons said price gouging complaints are on the rise against plumbers, auto shops and hotels.

SEE ALSO: Texas prices for lodging, necessities skyrocket amid winter storm, power outages

"There are going to be some hotel chains, operators and independents facing the Texas Attorney General," said Parsons.

If you think you were a victim of price gouging, Parsons said to make sure you save your receipts, document the service person or company and file a report quickly with the Better Business Bureau, who is working with the Texas Attorney General to begin investigations.

When ABC13 reached out to the hotel Hendrick stayed at, an employee quoted a standard room for $80 tonight. The manager was not available to speak with us.

"You'd think they would give us a break, instead of trying to up the prices on everything," said Parsons.

In a written statement the Texas Attorney General's Office told ABC13:

"Price-gougers may be required to reimburse consumers and may be held liable for civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation with an additional penalty of up to $250,000 if the affected consumers are elderly."

To file a complaint with the BBB of Greater Houston, visit the bureau's website.

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