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Pricey toilet paper? Consumers complain about price gouging during COVID-19 crisis

More than 1,000 people who have filed complaints with the Texas Attorney General's Office about price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

A pack of toilet paper for $10 or $20? 

Some Texans are complaining about high prices of necessities, including rolls of toilet paper. 

“My husband went to the convenience store and asked if they had any toilet paper. They said, ‘yeah, it’s kind of pricey, though,’” said Judy Robison of Lewisville. 

It wasn’t until he returned home that Robison realized a package of four rolls of toilet paper was $12.99. 

That comes to $3.30 per roll.

“That is illegal. They can’t do that,” Robison said. 

She is one of more than 1,000 people who have filed complaints with the Texas Attorney General's Office about price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas and 33 other states have laws against price gouging. 

Attorney General Ken Paxton says the price gouging laws apply to any person or entity selling necessities, such as toilet paper, face masks and hand sanitizer at an exorbitant or excessive price during the current COVID-19 crisis. 

This includes those who supply Texas grocery stores and pharmacies.

RELATED: AG Paxton warns 'retail suppliers will be held liable for price-gouging'

"If you are a consumer and you're running into price gouging, file a complaint with my office," the attorney general said. "Let us know and we'll go investigate it and we'll figure out if it is price gouging."

Most recently, the AG’s office took action against an auction firm that was trying to auction off face masks and other critical medical equipment at exorbitant prices.

Action isn't taken in every complaint.

"There are reasons sometimes to charge higher prices but there are not reasons to charge exorbitant prices on necessities,” Paxton said.

Robison said she felt taken advantage of. 

“There’s enough of that going around these days and under these circumstances I felt like I had to speak up,” she said.

Robison says the convenience store later told her that they had increased their prices because their supplier had increased prices.

Paxton says his office has seen similar complaints from retailers who say their vendors and suppliers are jacking up prices. 

"If you think there's price gouging going on with your suppliers or your vendors let us know and we'll pursue it. A lot of times we can end it with a simple phone call," Paxton said.  

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act states that price-gougers could be required to reimburse customers or could face penalties up to $10,000 per violation. Price-gougers may also have to pay an additional $250,000 if the affected customers are elderly. 

"My staff is there working really long hours to make sure we address these complaints as fast as we can,” Paxton said.

Anyone may have been affected by price-gouging is advised to call the AG's Office at 800-621-0508 or file a complaint online.

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