Raimondo on price gouging: ‘Don’t do it, it’s illegal’

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Gov. Gina Raimondo made it clear Thursday that price gouging will not be tolerated, especially as the state works to prevent further community spread of the coronavirus.

“If you’re doing it now, knock it off, and if you’re a Rhode Islander that’s seeing it…you have rights and we need to hear from you,” Raimondo said.

Paula Fleming from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said they’ve been receiving reports of prices skyrocketing on essential products.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen a significant increase in complaints from consumers about price gouging for critical items such as bottled water, hand sanitizer, face masks,” Fleming said.

Fleming said consumers have also reported of individuals buying a store’s entire stock of an essential product in hopes of selling it for a higher price.

“There is someone in our area that is sitting on a significant amount of hand sanitizer,” she said. “He’s stuck with that because he has nowhere to sell it.”

Fleming said online retailers like Amazon and eBay have been monitoring for potential price gouging sales. If one is spotted, the listing is removed.

This is a critical time to be ethical, according to Fleming. She urges customers to only purchase the products they need.

Fleming is also encouraging everyone to support local businesses during this difficult time, as many are struggling due to local guidelines or restrictions.

The BBB recently created a page on its website dedicated to helping businesses navigate their new reality.

Anyone who wishes to submit a price-gouging complaint can do so by contacting Attorney Gneral Peter Neronha’s office by phone at (401) 274-4400. Consumers can also email consumers@riag.ri.gov or subit a report online.

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