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. Thus the price gouging laws are not normally 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.
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.
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 the appropriate form and return it to the West Virginia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.
We offer consumers three options for submitting complaints.
You can also contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.