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Press Release

AG Shapiro Sues Amazon Seller, Seeking $825k for Price Gouging On Hand Sanitizer

August 20, 2020 | Topic: Consumers

Philadelphia-Based Seller Charged up to $75.80  for 8-ounce Bottles of Purell on Amazon
HARRISBURG―Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that his office sued a Philadelphia company called M & B Multi Services Inc (“M&B”) for illegal price gouging on Amazon.com marketplace. After the Governor’s March 6, 2020 Disaster Declaration, M&B sold at least 83 bottles of 8-ounce Purell hand sanitizer for as much as $75.80 each.

“It’s illegal to rip off Pennsylvanians during a pandemic, and we’re holding price gougers accountable,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “During a time when millions are out of work and millions more are struggling to pay for food and medicine, playing off people’s fears to rip them off is wrong, and illegal. M&B charged outrageous markups for hand sanitizer at the height of public anxiety, was asked to provide refunds, and refused. We are seeking nearly $1 million in penalties for their actions.”

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General sued M&B after the Office received information from Amazon alleging that the online seller was selling Purell Advanced Formula Green Certified Hand Sanitizer, Gel 8 oz Pump Bottle for unlawful prices. The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Amazon had previously announced they would coordinate to crack down on price gouging earlier in the year. The Office learned that M&B charged $75.80 per bottle for 49 of the bottles. M&B charged $65.80 per bottle for 34 of the bottles. M&B may have sold many more bottles of Purell at these illegally inflated prices through other outlets, including its own store and website.

Under the Price Gouging Act, a price increase of more than 20 percent during a declared state of emergency is considered price gouging. The Complaint asks the Court to order M&B to pay restitution to consumers and civil penalties of $10,000 per violation to the Commonwealth. The Complaint also requests an injunction to prevent M&B from violating the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act and Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law moving forward.

Consumers who purchased hand sanitizer from M&B on or after March 6, 2020 are encouraged to file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection, email at scams@attorneygeneral.gov or call at 1-800-441-2555.

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