Price gouging laws go into effect in two situations: 1) a state of emergency is declared or 2) a state of preparedness is declared. The state of emergency or preparedness will last for 30 days unless the Governor shortens or extends the time period. Otherwise, the price gouging laws are not in effect and sellers can charge prices customers will bear.
According to West Virginia’s price gouging law, prices for vital and necessary goods and services cannot be increased more than 10 percent above the prices in effect 10 days before the declaration. Thus, it is unlawful for any business, contractor, person or other entity to increase the price of any good or service deemed as vital and necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers by more than ten percent during the state of emergency or preparedness. There is a caveat, though. Prices are allowed to exceed the 10 percent price cap if the increase can be directly attributed to additional costs imposed on the seller by the supplier of the goods or can be attributed to additional labor and material costs used to provide the service, plus the customary markup by the seller.
Any person violating price gouging laws is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or confined in the county or regional jail not more than one year, or both.
You can read the price gouging code in detail here.
Filing a complaint
Consumers who believe they have observed price gouging during a declared state of emergency or state of preparedness can fill out the online Price Gouging Complaint form here.
Consumers who believe that they have been the victim of price gouging during a declared state of emergency or state of preparedness can fill out a General Consumer Complaint.
We offer consumers four options for submitting complaints.
- Option 1: Download and print the forms, fill it out by hand, and mail it (with any copies of documents related to the complaint) to: Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, PO Box 1789, Charleston, WV 25326-1789.
- Option 2: Download and fill out the appropriate PDF form, and e-mail the form and any additional documents related to the complaint in PDF format to firstname.lastname@example.org. (25MB limit on attachments)
- Option 3: Fill out an online version of the General Consumer Complaint form here.
- Option 4. Call the Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808 and ask us to mail you a complaint form, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
You can also contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.