December 29, 2006
Farmington, Mo. — A Farmington business that allegedly overcharged consumers for portable generators after the Nov. 30 winter storm will pay $37,952 in consumer restitution and $3,000 in costs under an agreement obtained by Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon filed the assurance of voluntary compliance with Precision Equipment and its owner, William Seely, in St. Francois County Circuit Court today.
Nixon alleged that after the storm, which knocked out power to many parts of east central Missouri, Precision Equipment violated state regulations on price gouging by charging excessive prices for Sycamore brand portable generators within a disaster area. Such conduct, Nixon alleged, took advantage of area consumers in the wake of a major snow and ice storm. A total of 63 consumers will be receiving restitution, after overpaying from $173 up to as much as $697 per generator.
"Time and again, my office has made sure to warn Missourians after every major storm to be wary of illegal activity, including price gouging," Nixon said. "Let this matter serve as yet another warning that such unscrupulous conduct is always an unfortunate possibility in the wake of a major storm that leaves consumers in a desperate situation."
According to the agreement, Precision Equipment will pay $37,952 in restitution for those consumers and $3,000 to the state to pay for costs associated with the investigation, prosecution and enforcement of the case. The agreement also stipulates that any future violations of its terms and conditions by the defendants will result in penalties of $2,000 per violation assessed against the defendants.
Missourians with consumer complaints can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800)392-8222 or can file a complaint online at www.ago.mo.gov.