S.C. Attorney General’s Office receives nearly 100 price gouging complaints

S.C. Attorney General’s Office receives nearly 100 price gouging complaints
(Source: Gray News)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said it has received nearly 100 price gouging complaints since the law went into effect last Friday.

The law makes it illegal to “rent or sell or offer to rent or sell a commodity at an unconscionable price.”

Many price gouging complaints center around paper products and sanitizers.

The Attorney General’s Office reports that they’ve received 35 complaints of price gouging on toilet paper and 27 complaints on sanitizers such as Lysol wipes, bleach and hand sanitizers.

Other complaints include gas prices, water and paper towels.

Robert Kittle, the spokesperson for the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, said that about 37 of the complaints were online with people selling items on Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Craigslist.

He explained that they go through each complaint, but many aren’t considered price gouging. For example, one complaint was that one gas station charged $1.80 per gallon while the gas station across the street was charging $1.70.

Kittle said that the increase has to be “unconscionable.”

He said that if a price gouging complaint warrants further investigation, it is turned over to local law enforcement. They will investigate and report their findings back to the AG’s office.

One example of price gouging that is being investigated was one store in Columbia that was accused of charging $90 for a one-liter bottle of hand sanitizer.

If you feel like you are the victim of price gouging there are certain steps that you can take to help our office investigate. Please do the following:

  • Note the time, place, address, and name of the business
  • Note the price you paid
  • Note any prices nearby and get the same information on those businesses
  • Take pictures that identify the business, along with the price
  • Provide your name and contact information

The S.C. Attorney General’s Office will need that information in order to conduct a thorough investigation. Please email any examples or documentation to pricegouging@scag.gov or call 803-737-3953 and leave a message if you have witnessed a likely violation.

Anyone found to have violated the state’s price gouging law is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

The price gouging law will remain in effect until the declaration expires or is terminated.

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