Who Do You Call if You Think A Business is Guilty of Price Gouging?
The coronavirus pandemic has unfortunately been a time of fear and uncertainty for many. As a result, some retailers have engaged in price-gouging on products throughout the country. Since early March when COVID-19 concerns became present in Michigan, the State Attorney General received thousands of complaints. Who do you call if you think a business is guilty of price gouging?
Michigan Executive Order 2020-89 expressly states “[a] person must not resell a product in this state at a price that is grossly in excess of the purchase price at which the person acquired the product.”
The Attorney General’s office has taken multiple actions to rein in predatory business practices by both brick-and-mortar establishments and online sellers throughout the pandemic.
“This public emergency is not an excuse to rip people off, and my office will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect consumers from being taken advantage of,” said Nessel in a press release. “I am committed to serving the people of Michigan and I will not allow predatory businesses to profit off vulnerable people who are concerned for their well-being and faced with the uncertainty surrounding this crisis.”
Nessel’s office has received over 4,200 complaints about businesses and individuals who are price-gouging consumers during this crisis, but some of these complaints do not warrant further investigation, and, unfortunately, many do not contain enough information to verify the complaints as legitimate.
What is price-gouging?
Businesses could violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act if they are:
- Advertising or representing goods or services with intent not to dispose of those goods or services as advertised or represented.
- Charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold.
- Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.
Who do you call if you think a business is guilty of price gouging?
Consumers can file a complaint online or call the Consumer Protection tip line, 877-765-8388. Hours of operation are between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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