Beware Of, Report Price Gouging
Council President James Byrnes warns of overpriced services, urges reporting of those gouging
Township officials are warning residents of price gouging that is already beginning for services needed as people clean up and recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Berkeley Township Council President James J. Byrnes said one tree company charged $3,000 to remove one tree, and noted the company was there just a half-hour. Anther company came by and tried to charge an exhorbitant amount to put a boat back up on its blocks, he said.
"How long could that take?" Byrnes said.
People have to be aware, Byrnes said, because unscrupulous contractors are saying the cost of the services comes off their insurance.
"Flood insurance doesn't cover trees or shrubs," Byrnes said. "They (residents) really need to check their policies before they have any work done."
If there is any hint of price gouging, residents need to contact the county consumer affairs department immediately, so those trying to do so can be stopped.
"They really need to call in right away so these guys can be put out of business real quick," Byrnes said.
New Jersey law prohibits price hikes of more than 10 percent in an emergency for any goods or services, though it does make an exception for merchants who face increased costs, but the markup is still limited to 10 percent above normal, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Residents who experience extreme price increases can report them by calling the county consumer affairs department at 732-929-2105 or report them to the state Division of Consumer Affairs at 862-209-0131 or 973-220-3474.