The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office stopped the illegal price gouging on Amazon by Goods and More Incorporated, a third party online seller based in the city of Scranton.
States across the country including Pennsylvania are aggressive in monitoring and pursuing companies that are taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to make a substantial profit through price gouging.
Price gouging happens when companies unreasonably and excessively increase the prices of essential products and services during disasters and public health emergencies.
Under the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act, a price increase of more than 20% during a state of disaster emergency declaration or 30 days after its termination is considered price gouging.
Goods and More sold single 12-ounce bottles of Purell hand sanitizer for as much as $39 each. The online sellers also sold 24-packs of 2-ounce bottles of Assured hand sanitizer for as much as $109.99 per package, according to the AG’s Office.
The AG’s Office launched an investigation into Goods and More after receiving consumer complaints alleging that the online seller was charging unconscionably excessive prices for hand sanitizers on Amazon.
Following its investigation, the Attorney General’s Office charged the online seller with violating the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act and the Consumer Protection Law.
Pennsylvania does not tolerate price gouging
Goods and More entered into an Assurance Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with the Attorney General’s Office. The online seller agreed that it will no longer charge an unconscionably excessive price for products covered by a declared emergency and will stop engaging in unfair methods of competition or business practices.
Additionally, the online seller agreed to pay $15,993 including $1,900 in civil penalties, $192.50 in court costs, and $13,901.48, which will be refunded to consumers who purchased the hand sanitizers at prices mentioned above.
In a statement, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “We won’t tolerate illegal price gouging during this emergency, and we’re taking action every day to stop it — here in Scranton and across Pennsylvania.”
Shapiro added, “Pennsylvanians need security and financial protection right now, especially when so many have lost wages and 30% of our residents are out of work.”
Furthermore, he encouraged Pennsylvanians to report companies engaged in price gouging. He reminded consumers, “You have a right in Pennsylvania to purchase life-saving goods at reasonable prices whether in-store or online.”