A Texas woman filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $1 billion in relief for customers of electricity retailer Griddy, which the lawsuit says illegally engaged in price gouging amid widespread power outages across the state last week.
Lisa Khoury, who filed the action on behalf of all Griddy customers who were charged the steep prices, faced a $9,546 electric bill from February 1 through to February 19 as a result of the massive spike in wholesale electric prices in Texas amid a severe winter storm.
The company says on its website, that instead of a fixed price, Griddy is a service that enables customers to pay variable rates on their electricity, being charged what wholesale customers would be charged or precisely the amount they buy electricity at.
The suit says that last week, wholesale prices soared amid the outages that hit millions of Texans, spiking to $9,000 per megawatt-hour compared with the average rate of $50 per megawatt-hour.
Derek Potts, an attorney representing Khoury, said in a statement that they didn’t know how many people had been hit, but there were likely to be thousands of customers who would have received these exorbitant bills.
And he said that a class action would be the most effective and efficient way for Griddy’s customers to come together and fight this greedy pricing.
Griddy didn’t immediately respond to USA Today’s request for comment on the case, but on a page of commonly asked questions about the storm on its website, the company denies allegations of price gouging.
The suit endeavours to stop Griddy from billing and receiving payments on the charges with excess prices during the storm and forgiveness for late or unpaid payments as well as the monetary relief.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that the state was investigating providers whose prices spiked, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas issued an order on Sunday stopping providers until further notice from disconnecting customers who’ve not paid their bills.
Numerous customers use Griddy with the exception of paying less, the lawsuit said. On its website in a video demonstrating how the service works, Griddy bills itself as a company that saves customers money by not marking up prices as do all those other guys, you know the ones who’ve been preying on you, your parents and your neighbours for the past 20 years.
What people should be doing is reading the terms and conditions of the contract properly because what the big print giveth, the fine print taketh away, and most people don’t trouble to read it.
You should always read everything before you sign for it, and if the company is attempting to rush or pressure you, then maybe it’s not worth signing at all!
And what’s baffling is is how did they get those bills in the first place, and how did they use that much electricity if there was no electricity, to begin with? And what are they going to do when people can’t pay because their bills are so high? Shut off the power to everyone, that way they’re going to put themselves out of business – good luck Griddy.
Whether they agreed to pay a variable rate or not, charging them such excessive prices is a bit much, don’t you think? And we’re not talking about something that occurred slowly, we’re talking about something that happened overnight.
The whole thing about is now, is that these people will go out of business because they were greedy, and at the end of the day, they didn’t achieve anything, and they’re not supposed to price gouge in an emergency.