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County Agencies Issue Warning to Price Gougers

Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by Joe Dowd.

Long Island public officials are warning merchants that they will prosecute those who would engage in price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Sandy:

The warning, issued by the top leadership of both Nassau and Suffolk counties, said authorities will take action against those responsible.

“My office has received calls from residents, who are trying to piece their lives back together after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, claiming to be quoted a certain price over the phone for various services and then being charged a different amount when it comes time to pay,” Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said.

“It would be an unacceptable and deplorable thing for businesses to try and take advantage of individuals in desperate need for basic services,” Maragos said.

County Executive Edward P. Mangano said he has ordered consumer affairs investigators into Nassau communities to prevent price gouging:

"If you're ripping off our residents, we'll find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," Mangano said.

It was a theme echoed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone:

"This is not acceptable," Bellone said in a statement. "Suffolk County has deployed consumer affairs investigators and they will be out throughout the weekend to follow up on complaints.
"We will be vigorous in holding people accountable," Bellone said.

County officials say they are concerned about people being forced to use local hotels, motels or other services where prices are seen to suddenly spike. Residents should report any incidents where they feel price gouging occurred.

To report suspected price gouging in Nassau County, contact Consumer Affairs at 516-571-2600 or contact the Comptroller’s Office at 516-571-2383.

In Suffolk County, the number to call is 1-800-909–5423.

Several local officials said that while they have heard reports of sudden price spikes, none have been confirmed so far. Through a spokesman, Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said he would look sternly upon such activity and urged residents to contact the county investigators.
Readers can also connect with Nassau County Comptroller Maragos online:

http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Comptroller/index.html

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