How is price-gouging like pornography? Because it consists of someone getting screwed?
Well yeah, but that's not the only way.
There is no sharply defined definition in Texas of what constitutes "price gouging" in the wake of a disaster. A bill in the legislature recently tried to define gouging as charging five percent over the standard price, but it died in committee.
"So now," says Dan Parsons of the Houston Better Business Bureau, "price-gouging is like pornography -- you know it if you see it."
Parsons says his office has not been hit yet with any large amount of gouging complaints.
"The first few complaints we got were not that impressive, frankly," he says. "It was like "Gas has gone up twenty cents!' That's not gouging, that's the market forces and what the station paid for the the gas off the truck."
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There's nothing government officials like better than prosecuting price-gougers, judging from the press releases they send out whenever they do it.
So be sure to send along any reports to the authorities.
Sad to say, four bucks for a gallon of gas isn't going to count.
-- Richard Connelly