Whitmer signs order enhancing price gouging restrictions amid coronavirus state of emergency

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order temporarily enhancing restrictions on the excessive pricing of goods, materials, emergency supplies and consumer food items linked to the coronavirus COVID-19 state of emergency. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a press conference Sunday afternoon that they have gotten numerous complaints about upcharging on supplies like cases of water and bottles of hand sanitizers. 

In some of the examples she shared, an Ann Arbor store was allegedly selling bottles of hand sanitizer for $60, $40 and $20 a bottle. In another example, a Farmington Hills retailer increased the price of grocery items like rice and lentil beans by 60%. Another retailer was allegedly selling cases of water for $35, and another allegedly separated face masks into individual bags and was selling each individual mask for $6 each.

"Businesses cannot and will not use this state of emergency as a business opportunity," Nessel said. She said as of now, they're deeming anything over a 20% mark-up to be grossly excessive - unless the price increase can be attributed to the cost of bringing the product to market. 

These enhanced restrictions go into effect on March 16, 2020 at 9 a.m., and will remain in place until April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., and are to be punishable with a misdemeanor as of now.  

If you see or have experienced price gouging, you are highly encouraged to report it to the attorney general's office. 

Take a picture of the product and, if you still plan to make the purchase, save your receipt. 

You can make a report by calling the consumers' protection hotline at 877-765-8388, or file a complaint online at michigan.gov/agcomplaints.

As of Sunday afternoon when this press conference took place, there are 33 confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 cases in Michigan. You can continue reading more about that here