Officials are warning Connecticut residents not to fall victim to price gouging as fears over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread.
Attorney General William Tong reminded everyone that price gouging can be illegal during civil preparedness and public health emergencies. His office has received five complaints of price gouging related to coronavirus, involving hand sanitizer, face masks and toilet paper. See the specifics below.
“I’m hearing reports from Connecticut and around the country of outrageous price hikes on basic supplies like hand sanitizer and disinfectant. Price gouging is wrong. During civil preparedness and public health emergencies, it is also against Connecticut law. The Office of the Attorney General will take aggressive action to protect consumers from price gouging and punish unfair profiteering. Now is the time to come together, to stay calm and listen to the public health experts. Price gougers take advantage of our fear. Don’t let these predators profit off your panic,” Tong said Tuesday.
Price gouging guidance from Tong’s office explained that retailers cannot raise prices on items during an emergency disaster declared by the governor to more than they would sell them for during the normal course of business. Connecticut law specifically prohibits price gouging on items that are subject to a “Supply Emergency Proclamation” made by the governor.
The guidance also noted that not all price increases are considered price gouging and that supply and demand will affect prices.
Anyone who suspects price gouging should report their complaint to the Attorney General’s Office at 860-808-5318 or online here.
The Department of Consumer Protection said as of Tuesday they have received 12 complaints related to coronavirus, including price concerns, travel issues and false advertising.
PRICE GOUGING COMPLAINTS TO AG
- A consumer recently went to a local gas station to purchase a 2 oz hand sanitizer bottle. The price for each of the hand sanitizer bottles was $10.20.
- A consumer recently went to a supermarket and the grocery store was completely sold out of hand sanitizer. The consumer then tried to purchase hand sanitizer from a dollar store near the supermarket where a small bottle of hand sanitizer with 70 percent alcohol was selling for $2.49 and the hand sanitizer with 100 percent alcohol was selling for $5.49. The consumer also filed a complaint that in addition to selling hand sanitizer for more than its value, the dollar store retailer was selling rubbing alcohol for three times the amount.
- A consumer recently went to purchase nine rolls of toilet paper from a local market. The consumer was charged $15 for the toilet paper.
- A consumer recently went to a wholesaler in Connecticut to purchase toilet paper. A package of 30 super mega rolls was selling for $39.99.
- A consumer recently went to purchase two packs of masks from an online vendor. One pack was retailing for $39, the other $49. After adding them to her cart and proceeding with her order, shipping for the face mask packs were $160 and $199.99 respectively. Instead of the order totaling close to $100, the order total was almost $500 for two packs of face masks.
- A consumer went to go purchase medical face masks online and claimed a vendor was selling the face masks at more than 10 times their value.
- A consumer went to go purchase hand sanitizer at a local gas station, but the hand sanitizer was selling for $29.99.
- A consumer recently went to purchase hand sanitizer from a dollar store where the hand sanitizer was retailing for $30 for one bottle, and two small hand sanitizer bottles were selling for $24.99. The dollar store was also selling cleaning wipes for $7.99 a bottle.