Alberta business charged with price gouging

An Alberta business has been charged with marking up pandemic-related items for sale by more than 300 and 400 percent in some cases.

\Service Alberta says their Consumer Investigations Unit (CIU) first learned of the business by an anonymous tip received through its ‘Report a Rip-Off’ line.

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“A CIU investigator went to CCA Logistics Ltd (Newsway) on April 1 and found several pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) items, as well as other items, being sold at prices that grossly exceeded their normal selling price.”

Examples included:

3M masks - $120 (400 per cent markup)

Hand sanitizer - $39 (200 per cent markup)

Vitamin C (two-pack) - $30 (100 per cent markup)

Hand soap - $10 (300 per cent markup)

Lysol spray - $25 (250 per cent markup)

Minister of Services Alberta Nate Glubish said taking advantage of Albertans is unacceptable and reprehensible.

“Unnecessarily hiking prices by 200 and 400 per cent is disgusting behaviour that will be punished 100 per cent of the time. Our Consumer Investigation Unit does excellent work and will continue to investigate complaints,” Glubish added.

The business owner is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Calgary on Aug. 19. As of May 8, CIU has received 458 complaints about price gouging related to COVID-19 at businesses across Alberta and 351 have been forwarded for further inspection or investigation.

Price gouging has been alleged across the province on the following consumer products: hand sanitizer, Lysol/Clorox wipes, toilet paper, face masks (including some N95s), disposable gloves, soup, flour, milk, baby formula, shredded cheese, and ground beef

The CIU reviews each complaint and will initiate an investigation if there is clear evidence of price gouging. If found guilty, a company could face fines up to $300,000. If consumers encounter a price that seems unreasonable, they can contact the Report a Rip-Off line at 1-877-427-4088, or file a consumer complaint online at  alberta.ca/file-consumer-complaint.aspx.

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