I-TEAM: What’s being done to stop price gouging during COVID-19 crisis?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Shoppers keep finding prices jacked up during the COVID-19 crisis, and now the I-TEAM has found a new push to help consumers fight back against price gouging.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said state lawmakers are taking the first steps toward making the law against price-gouging tougher.

Attorney General Dave Yost said, “Our laws in Ohio are not as strong as they are in other states,” said Attorney General Yost. “It sickens me that we’ve got people that are willing to take advantage of their neighbors.”

The I-TEAM found about 400 people have filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office during the time the coronavirus has been raging.

Joni Wilson filed a complaint after she found toilet paper being sold at an outrageous price on the west side. And, she didn’t get far confronting the clerk there.

“I said,  ‘That’s ridiculous! Who should have to pay that for something they need? She just looked at me like ‘I’ was the one who was wrong,” said Wilson.

So what difference could changes in state law make on your street? You could see new limits, so one person couldn’t buy up the entire store supply of something everyone needs. And, expect new penalties if somebody forces you to empty your wallet with unfair prices.

“We would take them to court and go after triple damages. And, it’s going to have some teeth to it,” said Yost.

Lawmakers are just working on details of the proposed new law. It won’t have an impact right now. But, action is starting because of what’s happening in stores and on-line leaving people fed-up.

Meantime, the Attorney General’s Office will still look into the hundreds of complaints that have rolled in over the last few weeks. Investigators will try to determine if there’s any action they can take.

“They should be fined and forced to donate that toilet paper to someone who needs it,” said Wilson.

While state lawmakers are writing proposals for the new law, they can’t even introduce it yet since they are not meeting as the coronavirus has been spreading.

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