Opinion

Customers will punish businesses who cheat

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Thousands of West Virginia residents (as well as folks from Ohio, Virginia and across the country) have answered the call to help victims of last month’s devastating flooding in portions of our state. But a few people heard a different call – the chance to make some money.

Reports are being received by the Attorney General’s office of businesses where prices for goods and services mysteriously skyrocketed in the wake of the storms and flooding, though the office said “By and large people have been handling this very, very well.”

However, “we have already issued 3 subpoenas and multiple letters to different businesses around the state. Some involved water prices and toiletry items, some involved hotels,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Surely, the office will pursue all those investigations with an eye toward exacting the maximum punishment for such reprehensible behavior. Meanwhile, other businesses tempted to raise prices on items – and shelter – desperately needed by flood victims should think again.

Even if law enforcement does not catch up with them, customers will notice. In fact, consumers who realize they are shopping in an establishment that has raised prices to take advantage of people who are still suffering should turn around and walk out the door. There is no need to reward that kind of “business” decision.

West Virginia remains strong, as recovery and cleanup continue. The reputation of those businesses who tried to squeeze an extra dollar or two out of the situation will linger lost after the mud and debris have been swept away.

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