Consumers in Trinity County Reminded That Price Gouging is Illegal

Shell gas station sign on stormy night

[Crop from a 2008 photo by Kym Kemp]

Press release from the California’s Attorney General:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a consumer alert following the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in Los Angeles, Butte, and Trinity Counties due to widespread fires. Attorney General Becerra reminds all Californians that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal under Penal Code Section 396.

“In the last week alone, fires have been raging in both Northern and Southern California,” said Attorney General Becerra. “While our brave firefighters are still working to ensure these blazes are fully contained, it should not be open season for fraudsters to prey upon innocent victims. California’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on gas, food, housing, and other essential supplies. As the top law enforcement officer in California, I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through my Office’s website or call (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”

California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute.

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39 comments

  • every store on sohum has been doing it for decades

    • Diesel DRW - Curb Weight 7762 lbs

      Best thing to do, in SoHum, is just don’t shop there. It cracks me up to see folks in ShopSmart whipping out wads of hundreds to buy stuff that would cost 40% less at Winco. YES you are getting gouged, but this is not what the story is about…

      YOU can go shop elsewhere – or do without.

    • shop intelligently

      My folks from Garb save tons shopping at Winco and Costco, and Eka Natty as well. It’s well worth the trip if you get a lot and combine it with other errands. And it sends a message to the price gougers down there. Shopping for food in Gville or Redway is ridiculous.

  • For real!! Even Ray’s does it now. Organic butter from Humboldt is 999 and even at chataqua it’s less , 749 .. at eureka Natty foods it’s 699 and at Safeway in eureka? It’s 599.. even Cypress Grove chevre was cheaper in Florida than at chataqua.. yea, the masses will only be healed from their afflictions when they can afford it in this day and age. I kick myself in the dicn Everytime I should at sheelltaxya

  • What a joke. We get price gouged all the time

  • Renner-.50 cents more than Willits regularly. As soon as the hurricane hit Texas, Renners prices went up.

    Other gas stations in town are in collusion. And two owned by the same company.

    As far as Rays and Shop Smart, they are both owned by the same company so, no competition.

    We should change our name to Ben Doverville.

  • Yes we are definitely getting it in the behind

  • Heck, redwood lumber is much more expensive here than just about anywhere else. And poorer quality too.

  • Not buying your story, bro. [edit]

  • The gasoline at Kettenpom and Ruth have been more than
    Hawaii.

  • we live in BEND OVER,CALIF.of HUMBOLDT.

  • We are not in a state of emergency. Nothing illegal here. Some of the folks, who don’t make a living off herb, have jobs cause you pay so hum prices.

  • Some of you people should have went to school and learned how to write.I can’t understand half the shit you all posted.Fucking idiots.

  • I miss Ernie. Will he ever comment again?

  • What about all the punk ass brokers who be regularly reverse-gouging on the tags for our light dep? They should be prosecuted too.

  • BACK TO PRICE GOUGING: I just heard that the airlines (which were) going out of the hurricane zone are legally charging up to 10 times the regular fare price. Illegal, I said. Wrong.
    The anti-price gouging laws are State laws; the airlines are governed by Federal law…which does not include price gouging controls.

  • How about rays in garberville , everythings double the cost, same in redway, even ol,ernie used to try that shit at radio shak

  • So. Humboldt is not in a disaster area, neither is Willits. This article is about Weaverville, Orleans, and Happy Camp areas tripling prices. If you’re not in those areas, suck it up, youre lucky..

    • Fortunately in Trinity County I have seen no evidence of this. Quite the opposite. Many Humbolt and Shasta businesses have also lent a much appreciated hand.

  • Wow! Could this discussion go off course any further? This article is a reminder to those that have already so much to be informed as to where they can turn when and if these disasters leave them in a position that allows shady businesses to prey on them further. If you live in an area where over priced goods are a regular issue, perhaps it would be prudent to research the legality of the costs and decide if your up to challenging those businesses. However disaster for profit is illegal all the way around. Federal,state or local.

  • Personally, I have no problem paying gville prices. Sure, I order online & go north to save a few bucks occasionally. Then there’s times, I don’t have the time to drive North. Other times I need items right away & can’t wait for an online order. So I go to Ray’s or Shop Smart & drop down the extra $ & never whine! I love the small talk there. Their jobs wouldn’t be possible, if not for the extra$ spent there. I don’t mind forking out extra cash to buy shoes or gifts in Gville, because I know it’s helping pay someones rent vs an amazon corporate CEOs vacation. We don’t have a high turn over rate, like other areas & this is how the mom & pop shops survive the winter rut. Working in Garberville, I hear all the time, “This is cheaper in Eureka!” Or “Online this is cheaper!” I just giggle to myself, “Newb!”

  • Thanks Kym as always for your thorough reporting !

  • So It’s not too expensive you just too cheap? 😂

  • I still think we should all raise our light dep prices and force the out of staters to pay their fair share for our product. Just saying , it’s gonna be a disaster zone here in 12 months

  • Just a little economic info, conditions that cause the price rise of gas and other commodities like water etc during crisis is to prevent hoarding, waiting in line, getting beat up, not getting goods you really desire, etc. The laws of economics are not suspended in an emergency, no matter what the laws of politicians attempt to do. When goods are more scarce, they will be costly to obtain, whether those costs are in terms of money or something else. The importance of letting market prices do their job and determining who gets what is that this process is also the way in which we make sure that there is stuff to be allocated in the first place. The only way to make sure we have sufficient production is to let market prices determine consumption.

  • I don’t buy at Big Box stores. If you make the time to look at the flyers at the food stores in this area (Rays,smart shop,Chautauqua)they have them before you enter the store, look for them ,they post what’s on sale. I am a retired senior on a fixed income and I am gluten free and organic. I also buy at the local farmers market on Friday. I also have a small garden. Anyone that doesn’t take the time to grow veggies today and can or freeze or dyhydate or buy in bulk when it’s on sale for the winter months is wasting their hard earned $. Just my comment.

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