Erie County consumers who believe they are experiencing price gouging should report all complaints, using this complaint form, to the Buffalo Regional New York State Attorney General's Office.
Before filing your complaint, please have the following information available:
The Product or service you are complaining about
- Brand and Product size
- Current Price (Date it was observed at the higher price)
- Previous Price, if known
- Seller name and address (phone number or website if known)
- Please have a copy of the receipt to submit with the complaint. Photos showing the pricing can also be uploaded.
If you want to reach the Attorney General's Department of Consumer Fraud, you may do so by calling 716-853-8404 or emailing them at email@example.com
Price Gouging 101
New York's price gouging statute, section 396-r of the New York General Business Law, prohibits unconscionably excessive pricing of necessary consumer goods and services during any abnormal market disruption. The statute applies to goods and services that are vital and necessary to the health, safety, and welfare of consumers and the general public. These include the essentials:
- consumer goods and services provided primarily for personal, family, or household purposes
- medical supplies and services used for the care, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of illness or disease
- goods and services used to promote the health or welfare of the public
The statute prohibits price gouging by all parties in the distribution chain, including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors. The Office of the New York State Attorney General enforces the statute and may promulgate rules and regulations.
In 2021, in response to an influx in price gouging because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis, New York's price gouging statute, section 396-r was strengthened, Attorney General James' ability to bring charges against those violating New York state's price gouging statute, as they sought to increase excessively prices on essential goods and services during pandemics or other emergencies.
If you are unsure if the item in question would qualify as a "necessary consumer goods," reach out to the Buffalo New York Regional Attorney General's Office at (716)853-8404 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org; consumers and merchants can file reports of price gouging via the Attorney General's online submission form.
Our office is also here to help; call (716) 858-1987 or email email@example.com for further assistance.
Gas Prices: Supply and Demand
As indicated under price gouging 101, for an item to qualify for price gouging, it must be a necessary consumer good, and there must be an abnormal distribution of the market, such as a state of emergency. Consumers continue to state they are experiencing price gouging whenever gas prices increase; this is inaccurate; gas prices fluctuate based on supply and demand.
US Energy Information Administration, EIA, advises that gasoline prices fluctuate because of crude oil prices and the availability of gasoline to meet demand. Increasing demand for gasoline and petroleum products in the US and the world can pressure the available supply. Gas prices tend to rise om the spring and peak in late summer when people drive more frequently.
If you want to see how much of the price you pay at the pump goes directly for taxes, check out this gas tax calculator from the Erie County Comptroller's Office.