ST PETERSBURG, Fla. - State lawyers have filed a lawsuit against The Tarpon Inn and owner Shreya Chetan Shah for allegedly charging at least 36 customers room rates of $80 to $120 per night, well above the $55 average nightly rate and a price increase of up to 118 percent.

The complaint also asserts the price gouging claims from Hurricane Irma represent the second known instance of price gouging by the Tarpon Inn, which constitutes a violation of a prior Assurance of Voluntary Compliance agreed to by the Tarpon Inn with this office after Hurricane Matthew.

From Hurricane Irma alone, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 14,000 complaints. They tell 10Investigates the office addressed many inquiries in real time when, at the office’s urging, businesses promptly agreed to price adjustments or refunds.

More than 1,000 of those complaints have been or are being pursued for potential lawsuits.

More than 2,000 consumers have received or will soon receive refunds or price adjustments of more than $268,000 from the last two storm seasons. Approximately 30 hotels, convenience stores and other businesses that increased prices of essential commodities excessively in the aftermath of hurricanes Matthew and Irma have entered into voluntary settlements or agreed to consent judgments, returning more than $103,000 to consumers and paying more than $100,000 in civil penalties.

Hurricane Irma Hurricane Matthew

Complaints

7,600

3,000 (Approximately)

Viable

1,000

Tracked differently during Matthew

Settlements

10

20

Lawsuits

2

5

Additional

*Efforts still very active

*Efforts ongoing

Many complaints are not pursued because consumer many times don’t live enough information to make sure violators are held accountable, the Attorney General's Office said.

Here are a few tips to help the state build an effective price gouging case:

  • Please provide contact information so the office can follow up as necessary, and provide as much information when submitting the complaint or when an investigator calls for follow up information.
  • Make sure to keep receipts and other documentation. Pre-storm receipts or advertisements for the same item at the same location are also very helpful.
  • Take photos or videos of any signage or screenshots of website postings.
  • Give complete and accurate information regarding the name of the business and its location.

Floridians who suspect a scam or would like to report an incident of price gouging should call (866) 9-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.

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