Advance Notice: Briefs
AG: Watch out for coronavirus-related price-gouging
Attorney General library | Susan J. Demas
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wars residents to beware of businesses engaging in potential price-gouging in light of the state emergency declared Tuesday for coronavirus (COVID-19). Michigan residents are urged to report any violation of the Consumer Protection Act online or by calling 877-765-8388.
The AG office is aware of businesses selling face masks, hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies at exceptionally high prices – likely in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. Other products that consumers might seek to purchase due to the threat of COVID-19 may also be at risk of price-gouging practices.
Retailers may be in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act if they are:
- Charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold; and
- Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.
“Supply and demand might be a familiar saying for retailers, but price-gouging is against the law and protecting consumers against unfair business practices is a service my office provides to residents,” Nessel said. “My Consumer Protection team reviews all complaints we receive and determines whether appropriate legal action should be taken. I encourage any consumer who believes they may be a victim of price-gouging to file a report with my office so that we can follow up on those concerns to hold accountable the people who are illegally profiting off of Michiganders’ fears and take legal action if necessary.”
The attorney general’s office last week contacted a west Michigan retailer for reportedly selling individual face masks at exorbitant prices. A discussion with the business owner took place, followed by a letter requiring the business to provide specific information to avoid formal action or investigation.
The latest coronavirus information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is available online, and at the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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