What CT’s attorney general is doing to stop price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — As the seriousness of coronavirus continues to set in, finding face masks, hand sanitizers and other “essential” items have become difficult. To find them, you just have to know where to look.

On Craigslist, you could be the proud owner of a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer for the low, low price of $250.

On Facebook, an 8 oz bottle of hand sanitizer was being sold for $40.

Those prices are not ideal or legal.

There have been numerous stories of people reaching out to help others in these uncertain times, but times like right now can also bring out the worst in people.

People trying to cash in on the coronavirus crisis, which state leaders want to stop.

“We want Facebook and Amazon and eBay and all these online marketplaces and retailers to institute tight control to make sure there are failsafes, circuit breakers if you will,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

He is a part of a coalition of 35 attorney generals that reached out to the major online retailers and online marketplace platforms to, as Tong told News 8 in an exclusive interview, strongly encourage them to do a better job of policing and stopping price gauging on their platforms.

Tong said he has received more than 200 complaints.

“It’s everything from six or nine rolls of toiler paper for 30, 40, 50 dollars.”

There are complaints of hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes for 10 times the price that you would normally see. You might see it as unethical. You could also see it as against the law.

According to Tong, “In Connecticut, that’s illegal, particularly in a public health emergency.”

If you have a complaint, you have a place to turn.

“We’re taking strong, aggressive action in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Protection,” Tong said. “When we get a complaint, we act on it, we investigate it.”

Complaints can be filed online.

However, Tong did say that not every price increase is price gauging.

“If you have a retailer in Connecticut who has to play x dollars from their supplier, and the prices from their supplier are higher than normal, and the Connecticut retailer is just adding a reasonable markup to their cost of buying the product, that might not be price gauging.”

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