SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (FOX 11) - Residents who live near the Sand Fire say a hotel booking site seemed to take advantage of those who needed rooms during the mandatory evacuation order.
Rachel Deberdt and her family were ordered to leave their sprawling estate along with six horses, four dogs and a cat. Once the animals were moved and safe, she turned to Orbitz to find a place for her husband Bruno and 10 year old daughter Sydney. Only one hotel had space, the Days Inn for $229 for one night.
The family decided to pass on that hotel, but as she continued to search, she was surprised to find the same hotel now with rooms listed at a much higher price.
She wasn't the only evacuee that saw Orbitz list hotel room rates at two, even two and half times a normal weekend rate. Screen shots of the Orbitz site show the Courtyard Marriott with a room for $637, the Holiday Inn for more than $500 and that same Days Inn had a room rate of $477!
"Not in our community." That was Ashley Fowler's response when she heard people were complaining of price gouging. She wasn't forced to leave her home but was incensed.
She called all the area hotels and each one quoted her rates that seemed in line for a summer weekend. She, then, called Orbitz. She said, the person she talked to told her, she was welcome to check other sites, but that their rates, were their rates.
Ashley is a paralegal and she told them California has an anti-price gouging ordinance, during times of disaster or emergency. She says, that didn't seem to move the Orbitz employee.
I tried to get some questions answered by calling and emailing the company's press center. By the airtime of the FOX 11 10 o'clock news, Orbitz still hadn't responded.
Finally, Orbitz may or may not have actually done anything illegal. I checked the California anti-price gouging ordinance. Apparently, it applies once a state of emergency is declared and that wasn't done until Tuesday, after most of the evacuees were allowed to go home.
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