March 17, 2020 By Christian Murray
The New York City of Department of Consumer Affairs is clamping down further on price gouging.
The agency announced this morning that it is illegal for retailers to sell any personal or household good needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at an inflated price.
The rule covers items such as disinfectants, soap, and cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, medicines, and tissues. The law makes it illegal for retailers to increase prices by more than 10 percent.
The latest rule follows the Commission’s announcement on March 5 outlawing price gouging on face masks. That rule was expanded again on March 10 to include hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.
The fine for price gouging is up to $500 per item or service. If businesses are paying more to supply these items, they must provide proof to DCWP.
“Now is the time for us to come together, not take advantage of each other for a profit but we continue to hear about and see empty shelves and price gouging,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We are using every tool in our toolbox to protect New Yorkers from price gouging during this public health emergency and I encourage consumers to file a complaint if they are overcharged.”
DCWP has received more than 1,000 complaints about price gouging since the first declaration on March 5. DCWP has also issued more than 550 violations for price gouging for the three items that had been declared temporarily in short supply.
DCWP is encouraging consumers who are overcharged to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311 and saying “overcharge.”
The new rule has already gone into effect and, under the city’s emergency rule making process, will be valid for 60 days. The Rule can be extended once for an additional 60 days.
DCWP is actively inspecting stores based on consumer complaints.