The State of New York sued two contractors last week, accusing them of price gouging during a snowstorm last November in Buffalo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman said the contractors allegedly inflated prices for services and goods during the storm, which dropped about seven feet of snow and resulted in a declaration of a state of emergency. State law prohibits companies from selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during a disruption in the market, which includes severe weather events.
“The people of Western New York pull together during tough times, and that spirit was on full display when the vast majority of neighbors were helping neighbors during the Buffalo snowstorm last November,” Schneiderman said. “Unfortunately, there are people who attempted to exploit this emergency to take advantage of those in need, and today, we are taking the first step towards holding people accountable.”
Collingwood Construction and Charles Cooper were named in the suit, which seeks a $25,000 civil penalty for each and restitution for consumers. In the lawsuits, both companies are accused of charging customers $2,000 to remove snow from roofs in three towns: Cheektowaga, West Seneca and Alden. The going rate for removing snow from a roof is between $500 and $600.
Additionally, Buffalo Orchard Park Topsoil reached a settlement with the Attorney General’s Office for charging up to $650 to remove snow from customers' driveways, which is at least double the going rate. The company agreed to pay restitution to customers who paid an excess of $300 and a fine of $150 per occurrence.