What is price gouging?
Under American Samoa law, price gouging is increasing prices after an emergency is declared. Raising prices more than 10% above pre-declaration prices. There are exceptions that allow businesses to increase prices by more than 10%.
What are the valid reasons for increasing prices after an emergency is declared?
American Samoa law allow people and businesses to increase their prices more than 10% if the costs to the retailer for supplies or labor increases. When we receive a report of price gouging, we will investigate whether or not the price increase is justified.
So if a retailer was selling tomatoes for $1 before the declaration, and after the declaration the retailers was selling them for $2, that could be price gouging. If the retailer couldn't get the tomatoes in by ship, the retailer had someone bring them in by plane that would increase the cost to the retailer. That would justify a reasonable price increase.
What does price gouging cover?
The law on price gouging in American Samoa prohibits unjustified price increases of over 10% on
· Consumer food items or goods,
· Emergency supplies,
· Medical supplies,
· Building materials,
· Any other goods or services necessary in an emergency,
· Repair or reconstruction services, or
· Any other services used in emergency cleanup.
What do I do if I see price gouging?
Reports of Price Gouging can be made to the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Please provide detailed information about the store, business, or person that has raised its prices since the beginning of the declared emergency. We need to know the name of the product as well as the price before and after the emergency.
What will the Bureau of Consumer Protection do once a complaint is received?
We will send someone to the stores to investigate the price increase. If the price increase is confirmed, we will look into the reason for the price increase. Some price increases are allowed by the law.
What are the consequences of price gouging?
Our goal is to obtain voluntary compliance with the law. If we find that someone is price gouging, we will determine an appropriate course of action. We may give a warning and explain the law. Violators are also subject to civil fines of up to $1000 per violation, the loss of a business license, or criminal prosecution as a Class A misdemeanor.