Landscape Company Charged with Price Gouging During Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey landscaping company/garden center allegedly charged exorbitant prices for generators, illegally sold gasoline in lead-up and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has charged a Long Branch, NJ, business—Stephen’s Landscaping, dba Stephen’s Garden Center—for allegedly defrauding customers in the fall of 2012 during Superstorm Sandy.

The company allegedly charged ridiculously high prices for generators between the time Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and Sandy actually hit. According to the complaint, Stephen’s Garden Center sold 133 generators that were marked up between 82% and 155%. Additionally, the company charged customers a mandatory $100 set-up/assembly fee. Charging exorbitant prices is prohibited under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.

Additionally, Stephen’s Garden Center allegedly sold gasoline without the necessary license. According to the complaint, 5-gallon gas cans were sold for $50. Depending on the cost of the can itself, that could equate to anywhere from $3 to $7 per gallon for the gas. Regardless, the unlicensed sale of motor fuel is prohibited under New Jersey's Motor Fuel Tax Act.

Finally, according to the complaint, many of the generators that were sold were under recall. The generators could leak fuel, posing a fire hazard. The sale of such recalled items is prohibited under New Jersey's Hazardous Products Regulations.