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State: Price gougers will be prosecuted

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COMHonolulu resident Charles Fuchi­gami loaded cases of bottled water into his car’s trunk Monday in the parking garage of the Kee­au­moku Street Sam’s Club warehouse store. With Hurricane Iselle forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds to the state in the later part of this week, many were hitting the stores to stock up on water, nonperishable food, batteries and other emergency supplies.
    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Honolulu resident Charles Fuchi­gami loaded cases of bottled water into his car’s trunk Monday in the parking garage of the Kee­au­moku Street Sam’s Club warehouse store. With Hurricane Iselle forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds to the state in the later part of this week, many were hitting the stores to stock up on water, nonperishable food, batteries and other emergency supplies.

In an effort to prevent price gouging related to the impending storms, the state Office of Consumer Protection has placed a freeze on the price of consumer goods in Hawaii through at least Aug. 15.

Bruce Kim, office’s executive director, said Thursday that the freeze was put into effect with the emergency proclamation signed Wednesday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Kim said that his office has already received more than 20 complaints of price gouging from consumers, most involve the sale of bottled water.

The law allows the Office of Consumer Protection to impose on retailers fines and penalties ranging from $500 up to $10,000 per violation.

Price gouging is defined as increases in the cost of vital consumer goods such as food, water, ice, gasoline, cooking fuel, batteries and generators, which is prohibited during a state disaster.

He said that if his investigators find any evidence of price gouging, his office will attempt to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

To report price gouging on Oahu, call 587-4272 and press 3 at the menu. Neighbor island residents call toll-free 274-3141, x62630# on Kauai, 984-2400 x.62630# on Maui, 974-4000 x.62630# on Hawaii island, 1-800-468-4644 on Molokai and Lanai.

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