Attorney General Tong Provides Update on Coronavirus Price Gouging Complaints
Attorney General William Tong today announced that the Office of the Attorney General has received 71 complaints regarding large price hikes on basic supplies like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper since Gov. Ned Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies on March 10 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Office of the Attorney General has received reports of 7.5 oz hand sanitizer bottles retailing for more than $25 and 2 oz bottles of hand sanitizer selling for $10 at local gas stations and stores.
Consumers have also reported price hikes on basic necessities like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes. In some cases, consumers have reported 30-packs of toilet paper retailing for $39.99 and three-packs of disinfectant wipes selling for nearly $40.
The Office of the Attorney General has also received price gouging complaints from online vendors. Consumers have filed complaints about price hikes on packs of face masks, in one instance, a pack of face masks were retailing for nearly $50 with an added $200 shipping fee.
“Bad actors are using this pandemic to take advantage of the vulnerable and those who fear for their health and safety. We will not tolerate price gouging during this public health emergency, and we will take aggressive action to stop it. Consumers should take appropriate precautions to protect themselves personally and financially. Any consumer who suspects an instance of price gouging should contact my office immediately,” said Attorney General Tong.
Anyone who suspects price gouging should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/. Consumers are encouraged to file their complaints online and list accurate information about the company, retail store or online vendor where the suspected instance of price gouging occurred. In the complaint, consumers should list the name and address of the retailer, the date and time of the instance, and also submit any pictures that show the suspected price hike.
If consumers are unable to file a complaint online or via email, they can call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.
During civil preparedness and public health emergencies, price gouging is against Connecticut law. Price gouging or profiteering means increasing the price of an item for sale at retail by more than could be justified in the ordinary course of business market fluctuations.
Acting in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection, the Office of the Attorney General may file suit against price gougers and seek appropriate relief, including injunctive terms, restraining orders, restitution, and civil financial penalties designed to deter future unscrupulous sales.