Patrons accuse hotel of gouging prices during winter storm

Thursday, December 13th 2007, 9:36 pm
By: News 9

By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9

Jennifer Cline was happy with the price of her hotel room until she saw their website.

"We found a room for $99; we were ecstatic, until I got online the next day and found the room is normally $59," Said Jennifer Cline.

Jennifer Cline is staying at a hotel with her family because she is without power at her home. They're all staying at the La Quinta Inn on South Meridian in Oklahoma City.

This is what she pulled off La Quinta's website, two different quotes for two different days. Each quote saying the room is $59.

News 9 pulled our own quote for a day next week. We found the same standard room at $69.

"We're not asking for a hand out. We're not asking for two free nights or even a free night. I just want to pay what I'd be charged on December 24th or January 8th.

We called La Quinta's corporate office for more answers. Their spokeswoman says there are many factors that affect the price of a room. An ice storm bringing up the demand isn't one of them. She says the rate was set to go up two weeks before the ice storm even hit.

We sent our News 9 producer in without a camera just to see what the price of a room would be today. He said it was $94. When he questioned the high price he found a discount was offered for people without power. This 20 percent discount was not offered to the Cline family.

"We were taken advantage of, we were price gouged when we were in a time of need," Cline Said.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson explained that motels and hotels can charge more if there's a big event in town, but not in a time of emergency. Once an emergency is called there's a cap on prices. Basically they can't go up anymore than 10 percent. So far, his office has received nine complaints of price gouging across the state three of which had to do with hotels.

"Being an Oklahoman I would look at fact we only got nine. This is a storm that hit all 77 counties. So I have to believe most stores and filling stations are playing by the rules," Edmondson said.

As some of the Cline Family's excited about staying another night, Jennifer is now in the process of filing a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

If you have any evidence of price gauging, call the Attorney General's consumer protection unit at 405-521-2029. You may have faster results by also calling your local district attorney's office.  We're here to keep an eye out for you.

If there's something Amanda Taylor and the Consumer Watch team can help you with call