I-TEAM: Are people getting away with price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic?


The Attorney General’s Office said as of this week, it had received 1,151 complaints about price gouging

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found the state has taken action against just one person for price gouging during the COVID-19 outbreak, even as consumers are still piling up complaints with the Ohio Attorney General.

The Attorney General’s Office said as of this week, it had received 1,151 complaints about price gouging. And, the office has taken “public action” against one man.

Yet, even this week online, FOX 8 found two containers of wipes for sale with shipping for $70, a can of disinfectant spray for $40 and a bottle of hand sanitizer for $19.

Consumers like Ronetta Young are desperate for more help from outrageous prices.

Young reacted when FOX 8 told her only one man had been hauled to court.

“It’s really sad ’cause it’s more than one person that’s hurting us. Everybody should be penalized,” she said.

So what’s going on?

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has spoken out against price gouging.

But for this story, a spokesman sent an email that included, “We cannot comment on why we have or have not taken public action.”

The Attorney General did file a lawsuit against a Northeast Ohio man for selling masks at a huge mark up. That man settled and agreed to pay back consumers $15,000.

Still, what about all of the other complaints?

The Attorney General’s office also says every complaint gets reviewed. And often, the state tried to settle complaints with businesses informally.

At the same time, Attorney General Yost has said Ohio’s price gouging laws are weak. State lawmakers have started moving to make the laws tougher. But that process just began weeks ago, and there’s no telling when the changes will be finalized.

For now, consumers are still finding what they consider unfair prices, especially on some things that are hard to find in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The outbreak hasn’t ended, and neither has the sticker shocks. 

Watch FOX 8’s previous report on price gouging below.

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