While raising rates seasonally or significantly during conventions or a big game is common in the hotel industry, gouging during a disaster can be criminal. Many states have laws in place that protect people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on gas, food, housing and other essential supplies. The cost of litigation can be steep. Understanding and complying with state regulations surrounding the issue is valuable to eliminating risk and to your bottom line. Daily News New York, Adam Edelman, reports a recent gouging case in New York.
Granite JFK LLC and Crossroad Hospitality Company, which owns and operates the Courtyard by Marriott New York JFK Airport hotel, will have to fork over the cash. (GOOGLE MAPS)
A company that owns a prominent hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport will have to pay more than $65,000 for gouging hundreds of consumers who’d been left stranded by a 2016 blizzard to settle a probe by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.
Granite JFK LLC and Crossroad Hospitality Company, which owns and operates the Courtyard by Marriott New York JFK Airport hotel, will fork over $48,000 in restitution to customers and pay another $17,500 in civil penalties to the State of New York for illegally overcharging guests stranded at the airport during the Jonas Ice Storm in January 2016, Schneiderman’s office told the Daily News Sunday night.
“The Courtyard by Marriott took advantage of hundreds of stranded people who were simply seeking the safety of shelter during and after this massive blizzard,” Schneiderman said. “This settlement holds the hotel accountable for these actions and prohibits it from happening again.”
“I encourage New Yorkers to consult our tips to avoid cold weather scams, and to report any incidents of fraud to my office,” he said.
An earlier investigation by Schneiderman’s office found that the hotel hiked room prices by up to 75% during the Jan. 22-25, 2016 storm that resulted in a travel ban for all roads in New York City and Long Island, a mass transit shutdown and a suspension of all airline, bus and rail service in and out of the city.
The storm, the second biggest blizzard in New York City since 1869, left hundreds of stranded travelers with no choice but to stay in area hotels. Schneiderman’s probe found that the Courtyard by Marriott drastically increased its rates for consumers during the storm by 45%-75%, compared with the average room rates for the week prior to the storm.