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2020 News

Consumer Alert: Intentional COVID-19 Price-Gouging is Illegal

March 18, 2020

Media Contact: Michael D. Bannon, Consumer Protection, 215-348-6060, mdbannon@buckscounty.org

The Bucks County Department of Consumer Protection wants the public to know that merchants who take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by intentionally inflating prices of goods may be breaking the law and could face legal action.

“Bucks County government has been vigilant in investigating reports of retail price gouging,” said Michael D. Bannon, the county’s director of consumer protection. “Intentional price-gouging is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

Incidents of price gouging can occur at, but may not be limited to, retail outlets that sell household necessities such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies, as well as groceries and gasoline. Purell gouging

Pennsylvania’s Price Gouging Act of 2006 provides that “a price is unconscionably excessive if, during and within 30 days of the termination of a state of disaster emergency … [it] exceeds an amount equal to or in excess of 20% of the average price at which the same or similar consumer goods or services were obtainable in the affected area during the last seven days immediately prior to the declared state of emergency.”

Bannon encouraged residents who suspect price gouging during the COVID-10 pandemic to email the Consumer Protection Department at consumerprotection@buckscounty.org, or call the consumer hotline at 1-800-942-2669.

“All legitimate alerts will be investigated and will be held confidential,” Bannon said.

Complaints of suspected price gouging should include the name of the business, as well as the address and the suspected price increase of any items for purchase.

Bucks County Consumer Protection will continue to monitor retail transactions to protect the rights of Bucks County residents in this difficult time and to work with retailers to ensure their compliance with this important consumer protection law.