State AG Investigating Price Gouging Complaints

Mike Seals - April 13, 2020 11:21 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Since a state of emergency was announced in March, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office has fielded hundreds of reports of possible price gouging.

“After that declaration, there can’t be a markup of 10-percent or more,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter.

He said he’s doubled the number of investigators in the consumer protection unit as the reports of overpriced eggs, cleaning supplies, and other items continue to roll in.

“We’re in excess of 380 so we’ll probably get to 400 here in the next couple of days,” Hunter said.

They look into each claim by gathering records and documents from retailers, and studying national pricing on items like eggs and produce. They also investigate claims made about online retailers.

“We are seeing some price increases but we have also again done background on a lot of those commodity-related price increases and we determined that it’s a market force phenomenon,” Hunter said.

Oversight on how some items are priced before they reach retailers is typically under the scope of federal agencies, and Hunter’s office keeps in close contact with them.

So far he said he hasn’t seen blatant profiteering, however there have been cases where sellers were found to be violating the law.

“We have seen instances where stores are marking up over 10% and our approach to that has been inform, persuade, and in all the other cases we’ve been able to get the retailer to reprice things consistent with the statutes,” Hunter said.

Complaints about potential price gouging or fraud, both coronavirus-related or otherwise, can be sent into the AG’s consumer protection website.

 

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