FORT MYERS, Fla. — An estimated 2,200 complaints have come into the Florida Attorney General’s office in relation to price gouging since a state of emergency was declared for Hurricane Matthew.
Among those complaints were two claims that the Travel Lodge on South Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers increased their nightly rate by more than double the quoted reservation price.
One of those complaints came from Christina Frias, a mother of two who had to evacuate from her home in Belle Glade on Thursday.
“When I got there price was $299 plus tax. The total was $333,” Frias said.
Frias said the motel told her the rate was only $111 when she booked her reservation and told her the price had increased when she arrived because she had booked the last room.
After filing a complaint with the attorney general’s office, Frias said she was offered a partial refund of that higher rate at checkout.
Another woman said she booked a room at the same Travel Lodge for $88 on Friday night, but when she called later to book a second room, she was quoted a rate of $300.
The woman states that she was told: “We are like the airlines and higher demand requires higher rates”.
“We are like the airlines and can charge more for a demand” just one of 2200 #pricegouging complaints to Fl AG. #HurricaneMatthew @winknews pic.twitter.com/n7ZA1WxlU7
— Lauren Sweeney (@LaurenWinkNews) October 7, 2016
The attorney general’s office said via email that it was investigating the motel.
“I am working diligently with my Consumer Protection Division to investigate price gouging complaints, and anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should contact my office immediately,” attorney general Pam Bondi said. “People should not take advantage of our fellow Floridians, especially during a crisis.”
No one from the motel’s management team responded to calls or emails regarding the complaints.
Complaints of price gouging can be reported to the Florida Attorney general online or call toll free from a Florida phone number to 1-866-966-7266.
If you or anyone you know has a tip about price gouging, email WINK News investigative reporter Lauren Sweeney at Lauren.email@example.com or reach out on Facebook or Twitter.