When Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Oct. 26, it automatically activated New York’s anti-price gouging law to prevent such activity.
The anti-price gouging law applies not just to motor fuel but bottled water, chainsaws, propane, hotel rooms, building supplies and all other vital consumer commodities.
In a written release, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and County Executive Ed Mangano also warned residents to be on the lookout for price gouging. “My office has received calls from residents, who are trying to piece their lives back together after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, claiming to be quoted a certain price over the phone for various services and then being charged a different amount when it comes time to pay,” said Maragos. “It would be an unacceptable and deplorable thing for businesses to try and take advantage of individuals in desperate need for basic services.”
Mangano said he ordered consumer affairs investigators into Nassau communities to prevent price gouging. "If you're ripping off our residents, we'll find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” said the county executive.
Madalyn Farley, the commissioner of the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs, told the Herald that her office had received a couple of complaints of price gouging as of Friday, and that her inspectors have investigated both instances.
She added that high gas prices do not necessarily equate to price gouging, but to normal supply and demand. “It's really not price gouging if [gas prices] went up 20 or 30 cents from last week,” said the commissioner.
But Farley said that if service stations are charging more than $4 per gallon, her investigators are obligated to enter the station and ask the owner why the price is so high.
Julie Marchesella, a Merrick business owner and the president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, admitted that while the gasoline shortage will have a great effect on the local economy, she that she expects a return to normalcy by the start of next week. "I think people just have to sit tight as best as they could," she said, "and try to clean up as much as they can.”