Bains Brothers LLC, owner and operator of gas stations across North Texas, will pay more than $26,000 to drivers it admitted gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Texas Attorney General's Office announced Tuesday afternoon. The company, owned by Kuldip Bains, overcharged customers at its stations in Carrollton and Arlington, according to settlement documents.
Bains did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
“Price gouging is something that no Texan should be confronted with when there’s a declared disaster such as Hurricane Harvey,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “This latest settlement reimburses those who were taken advantage of by businesses that charged excessive amounts for fuel, and it serves as warning that Texas’ price-gouging statute will always be vigorously enforced.”
During the run on gas in Dallas that accompanied Hurricane Harvey's arrival in Houston, Bains' stations charged customers as much as $6.99 per gallon, despite having signs promising much lower prices, according to the attorney general. At the time, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had declared a state of emergency across Texas. During states of emergency, charging exorbitant prices for necessities is illegal.
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As part of the settlement, Bains Brothers stations are barred from charging more than 125 percent of their previous 30-day average price for gas during a declared state of emergency. They are also permanently barred from charging customers a price different from that which is listed on signs at their stations or gas pumps themselves.
Bains Brothers is also required to issue refunds to any customers who bought gas during that time for which it has credit card records. If customers paid cash, or do not receive a refund on the card with which they purchased gas at one of the stations, they can fill out a claims form and mail it to the attorney general's office.
In the year-plus since Hurricane Harvey, Paxton's office has agreed to 53 settlements with Texas businesses.