$29 for 24-pack of water in Fayetteville among 180+ price gouging complaints after Matthew

Flooding in Wayne County after Hurricane Matthew. Photo contributed by Renee Best Bryan.
Flooding in Wayne County after Hurricane Matthew. Photo contributed by Renee Best Bryan.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina officials are continuing to investigate more than 180 reports of price gouging during and after Hurricane Matthew earlier this month.

On Tuesday, officials said that they had issued subpoenas to four businesses – most of which are in Cumberland or Wayne counties and two of which have headquarters in Raleigh, said Noelle Talley of the N.C. Attorney General’s office.

Officials from the North Carolina Attorney General’s office pointed out several reported examples of price hikes from car rentals, bottled water and hotels.

In one case in Fayetteville, a convenience store was charging $29 for a case of bottled water, Talley said.

Wayman Smith has lived in Fayetteville for decades. He is an US Army veteran, now teaches in the Cumberland School District and also coaches football.

He says he’s been using a rental car from enterprise in Fayetteville to get around to all his duties for the last month, but after Hurricane Matthew his rental rates doubled.

Smith was one of the people who filed a report with the state.

“The vehicle rate was $28.99… when I brought it back on Monday it would be $60 a day,” Smith said. “There is a lot of people in Cumberland County dealing with this and they don’t need this.”

According to Talley, the four businesses being subpoenaed by officials are:

  • Enterprise Leasing Company-Southeast LLC of Raleigh, for allegations that rental car rates were increased from about $30 per day to about $60 per day at  the company’s locations in Fayetteville, Lumberton, Raleigh, Elizabeth City and Boone.
  • The Komegay Company LLC of Charlotte, for allegations that its Sleep Inn at 203 NC Highway 55 West in Mount Olive was reportedly charged as much as $150 a night for rooms that typically are less than $90.
  • Circle K. Stores Inc. of Raleigh, for allegations that its Kangaroo convenience store at 6605 Raeford Road in Fayetteville charged $29 for a 24-pack of water.
  • JSR3 Inc of Gastonia, for allegations that its Budget Inn at 800 West Franklin Street in Gastonia charged storm evacuees as much as $300 a night for a room.

Officials say that they have received 183 complaints of price gouging related to Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath.

Kevin Anderson, director of the consumer protection division, talked about the complaints.

“We had eight complaints against they were all alleging the rental car company was charging double before the storm,” Anderson said.

He said the calls for Enterprise Rent A Car keep coming in and it’s not just Fayetteville, but Raleigh, Lumberton, Elizabeth City and Boone.

Consumers can report suspected price gouging online at ncdoj.gov or by phone to 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free within North Carolina).

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