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$20 for Clorox and Lysol sprays and $40 for a three-pack of disinfectant wipes–that’s how much a Midtown hardware store was selling its products for before getting caught and fined by the city. The store, Scheman and Grant on West 39th Street, may also have been trying to sell a bottle of hand sanitizer for $80. According to NBC, they created a list of prices for these hard-to-find products and told customers to check those prices before purchasing because returns would not be accepted.
To combat price gouging on products like hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning supplies, and alcohol, both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have sent a clear message to businesses that they could lose their licenses if caught engaging in such behavior. “Not only is it disrespectful, it’s also illegal. And you will be caught,” said Cuomo. Last week, the Mayor noted that face masks are in short supply, and any retailer found marking them up will be fined $500.
The city’s current price gouging laws were put into effect after Hurricane Sandy, when a similar problem arose. Last week, Senator Brad Hoylman introduced legislation that would take this a step farther: “A medical product like hand sanitizer during or wipes or face masks could not be sold over 10 percent of the retail value,” he said, according to NY1. State Senator Todd Kaminsky of Long Island is also advocating for such legislation, reports CBS.
Under the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency on Saturday, he launched a hotline and online system where New Yorkers can report price gouging to the New York State Department of State’s Consumer Protection Division and directed this agency to investigate such reports. This morning, Cuomo also unveiled that the state itself would begin producing its own hand sanitizer at a rate of 100,000 gallons per week. These bottles will be distributed to schools, the MTA, government agencies, and prisons.
It’s not clear how much the hardware store was fined for, but at a press conference on Sunday, Mayor de Blasio said, “They have been fined. This is unacceptable. Price gouging will be acted upon. This is a crisis, not a time to profit.”
Consumers can report suspected gouging by calling 1-800-697-1220 or visiting this website.
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Tags : Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio, price gouging