The city attorney’s office has been perusing stores for evidence of price gouging since the COVID-19 crisis began. City Attorney Mike Feuer and his team have found a half gallon of bleach for more than $100, and a two-pack of hand sanitizer priced at $149.
Feuer said in a video that debuted on March 21 he’s ready to fight.
“Price gouging rips off consumers and wrongfully costs them money,” he said. “But more than that, the mere listing of a product during an emergency at inflated prices spurs panic and we all suffer when stores are needlessly in short supply.”
As more consumers across the nation are stocking up on household essentials like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, the demand for these types of products has gone up tremendously, causing some people to sell third party on websites like Amazon at higher prices than normal.
Feuer said California’s definition of price gouging is the increase in price of goods and services like food, medical supplies and gas by 10% from the price it was charged the day before a state of emergency was issued.
The exception to this is if the business or business owner can relate their price or service increase to additional costs from a supplier or to limited costs for labor or materials used to provide services during an emergency.
Violators found price gouging can be sentenced up to one year in prison and/or fined up to $10,000. They are also subject to civil enforcement actions, including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.
The office has encouraged LA consumers to report price gouging by filling out a form.
“Please know that my office and I are here during this crisis and we’re doing everything we can to protect you,” Feuer said. “Times of crisis bring out the best of who we are, and we will be better and stronger for it.”
For more information about price gouging or to report price gouging, go to https://www.lacityattorney.org/covid19.