Hotel Prices Spike, Some Travelers Suspect Price Gouging

Demand for hotel rooms in East Coast cities is spiking as many travelers are stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Hotel Prices Spike, Some Travelers Suspect Price Gouging
Louis Fox | Digital Vision | Getty Images

The rising demand, of course, allows hotels to charge a premium, with some angry consumers taking to Twitter to complain about price gouging.

"Erin B" @erininnyc said, "Hey Hotel Pennsylvania, why are you price gouging Hurricane customers? You doubled my sister's existing room rate. #notcool" Hotel Pennsylvania was not immediately available for comment.

(Read more: Is Price Gouging Reverse Looting?)

The Consumerist reports New York City hotels — brimming with stranded tourists — are no longer allowing deep discounts on online booking sites such as Orbitz, Priceline and Expedia .

Priceline offered this comment about NYC bookings amid Hurricane Sandy.

"Those deep hotel discounts apply only to the dates the consumer specified when they entered their bid or booked at the special discounted rate," spokesman Brian Ek said. "The traveler can always come back to and bid again or look for a special discounted rate for that extra day, although he/she might have to go to a different hotel, assuming availability exists," he said.

Orbitz was not immediately available for comment, and Expedia declined to comment.

One Couple's Story

Take for instance one couple who had spent Sunday and Monday at a Midtown hotel for around $110/night. A day later were paying $250 at the same hotel, according Consumerist.

"I asked why and they said it was due to 'occupancy' and that I should 'be thankful because they were charging walk-ins last night a rate of $385 a night,'" Heather tells Consumerist. "We paid the price and we're still here because we have nowhere else to go."

The big question: Is this price gouging?

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent out a press release arning "against price inflation of necessary goods and services during hurricane Sandy." New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued a "forceful reminder" that price gouging "will result in significant penalties." Hotlines have been established o allow consumers to report gouging.