State News

Gouging crusade: Dana Nessel goes after eye-popping Purell markups in Ann Arbor

March 31, 2020, 12:35 PM

Michigan's attorney general doesn't just send "stop it" warning letters to sellers of inflated-price pandemic items. She also goes to court.

A Washtenaw County judge grants a request for investigative subpoenas forcing an Ann Arbor janitorial supplier to give business records and testimony about charging $20 to $60 for small Purell bottles.

Eleven shoppers complain that these prices are grotesque. (Photo: Michigan Attorney General's office)

The price-gouging case invokves A.M. Cleaning & Supplies of Ann Arbor, says a release about Dana Nessel's latest crackdown on apparent Consumer Protection Act violators. 

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge David Swartz on Friday approved the attorney general’s request for the subpoenas, which will compel the business to provide transaction records throughout the month of March as well as testimony from the owner and employees. ...

The attorney general’s office has received 11 consumer complaints against A.M. Cleaning that allege the store drastically increased its prices of hand sanitizer. Complaints began after the business posted a message on social media advertising hand sanitizer at $60 for a 12-ounce bottle, $40 for an 8-ounce bottle and $20 for a 4-ounce bottle. Days before, the bottles were reportedly priced at $7.50, $5 and $2.50, respectively.

"Legal recourse is not the preferred option, but my office will take any necessary steps to determine whether reports of price-gouging are valid," Nessel said. "Businesses must play by the rules and if a company is breaking the law, we will hold it accountable.

"Michigan consumers looking to buy products they need or to protect their health during this pandemic will not be subjected to excessively high prices."

Her statement cites "conflicting statements in the business’ response" to a March 11 cease-and-desist letter as a reason for escalation.

One of the complaints to the state is from a shopper whose receipt shows she paid $67.84 for three bottles, Nessel's office said.

In another situation, the office challenged a West Bloomfield healthcare industry supplier charging $10 for face masks -- later lowered to $5 each.

Massively inflated price complaints can be filed online or by calling (877) 765-8388 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.


Michigan Free-Market Center Slaps Dana Nessel's 'Energetic Pursuit' of Price Gougers, March 30

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