What is gouging?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—First Coast News has gotten a number of tips regarding price gouging, including recent hikes in gas prices.

But what exactly is gouging? According to state law, it’s selling “essential commodities” or lodging for an amount that “grossly exceeds” the average price for the 30 days prior to a state of emergency declaration.

“Grossly exceeds” is vague. But case law and prior prosecutions have narrowed that to mean something in the range of a sudden 10 to 25 percent increase.

One complaint First Coast News received, about an overnight per gallon gas price increase from $1.95 to $2.09, represents just 7 percent, and probably wouldn’t qualify as gouging. And, in some cases, a seller can justify a price by showing increases in market trends.

However, if you believe you have spotted price gouging, send us an email at news@firstcoastnews.com. You can also report cases to the state Attorney General Office at 1-866-966-7226.


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