On Tuesday, TIME Moneyland and many other news outlets wrote about a story in the New York Daily News claiming that guests at a Brooklyn hotel were charged $999 a night for a room during Hurricane Irene. Readers expressed indignation, the Attorney General got involved, and the hotel insists the astronomical price was a technological mix-up.
The Daily News followed up with this one day after the original story ran, in which Dev Dugal, vice president of marketing and IT at Globiwest Hospitality, the hotel’s parent company, explained that a glitch with third-party travel site Expedia and its affiliates were to blame. Previously, Dugal had left messages in the comment threads on several websites that covered the story, which read, in part: “We did not price gouge, nor had any intention to do so. Our hotel never posted a $999 rate on our website or quoted any person on the phone of such rate. … Our hotel has been in business for four years and the highest rate we have ever charged was $399.”
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Dugal says he has no idea who the Daily News spoke to when the reporter cited an unnamed employee saying, “It was just because of high demand. If you can pay, then it’s on you.”
“The likelihood is that it’s a housekeeper or a housekeeping manager,” he tells TIME Moneyland.
Earlier media coverage of the hotel does give prices higher than $399. Another Daily News story from 2009 says rooms were $429 in the summer of 2008. (Dugal says that reporter might have been including tax or referring to a package.) A 2007 story in the New York Times includes an interview with the hotel’s then-general manager and lists a price range of $300 to $450. “I can’t confirm that he was accurate with his statement there,” Dugal says in response.
A spokeswoman in the state attorney general’s press office, which initiated an inquiry into the issue, says the situation is an ongoing matter. “It remains open and has not been settled,” spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua says, adding that consumers who think they were price gouged by a provider of any good or service in New York following Hurricane Irene should go to the AG’s website and file a complaint.