Price goug­ing

AG Her­ring says he has warned 114 busi­nesses.

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUSTIN MATTINGLY jmat­tingly@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6012 Twit­ter: @jmat­tingly306

More than 100 Vir­ginia busi­nesses have been warned about price goug­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Her­ring’s of­fice said.

Her­ring has sent at least 114 warn­ing let­ters to busi­nesses in the state, with the at­tor­ney gen­eral re­ceiv­ing com­plaints on prod­ucts in­clud­ing toi­let pa­per, hand san­i­tizer and pa­per tow­els, among other things.

As of Tues­day, Her­ring’s of­fice had re­ceived more than 500 price goug­ing com­plaints from across Vir­ginia, in­clud­ing the Rich­mond re­gion, spokes­woman Char­lotte Gomer said.

“At­tor­ney Gen­eral Her­ring and his team are re­view­ing all com­plaints and will be ag­gres­sively in­ves­ti­gat­ing any po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions and pur­su­ing vi­o­la­tors,” Gomer said.

Gomer said that Vir­ginia’s Post-Dis­as­ter An­tiPrice Goug­ing Act, which pro­hibits busi­nesses from charg­ing “un­con­scionable prices” for “nec­es­sary goods and ser­vices” dur­ing a cri­sis, also re­quires that the com­plaints be kept con­fi­den­tial, mean­ing the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice is not pub­licly iden­ti­fy­ing the busi­nesses it has warned.

Her­ring said at the end of March, the first month of Vir­ginia’s state of emer­gency, that his of­fice had sent 42 let­ters to busi­nesses in re­sponse to price goug­ing com­plaints. That num­ber has in­creased nearly three-fold in the past two months.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that busi­nesses will take ad­van­tage of a sit­u­a­tion like a pub­lic health cri­sis to try and make more money off of nec­es­sary goods like hand san­i­tizer, clean­ing sup­plies, face masks, or water,” Her­ring said in March.

“My of­fice and I take price goug­ing com­plaints very se­ri­ously and I hope that th­ese let­ters will send a strong mes­sage to busi­nesses across Vir­ginia that price goug­ing will not be tol­er­ated here.”

Res­i­dents can file price goug­ing com­plaints by call­ing (800) 552-9963, email­ing con­sumer@oag. state.va.us or through an on­line form on the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s web­site.

Her­ring

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