Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reached a settlement with Wyndham Hotel Management Inc., on behalf of The St. Anthony, a Wyndham Historic Hotel Inc., and Wyndham International Inc., as the result of an investigation into price-gouging consumers during Hurricane Rita, the AG’s office reported.
Under agreement, Wyndham will pay $190,000 in consumer restitution and state costs for investigating the case. Additionally, in the future, Wyndham’s room rate may not exceed its standard room rate by more than 10 percent during a declared disaster. Wyndham is also barred from collecting hotel occupancy taxes from evacuees who are fleeing a disaster.
The settlement concludes a lengthy investigation by the AG’s office. The investigation indicated that The St. Anthony gouged occupants who fled Hurricane Rita. Consumer complaints also indicated that The St. Anthony nearly doubled prices for evacuees who needed to stay additional nights, despite the hotel’s low occupancy rate at the time.
The AG’s office is working with Wyndham to identify affected consumers and facilitate refunds. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Attorney General is authorized to protect consumers during or after official disaster declarations from exorbitant prices for necessities, including fuel, food, lodging, medicines, repair work and other basic requirements. Violators can face penalties of up to $20,000 per incident.
Source: Texas Attorney General’s Office
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