AG warns retailers after W. MI store hiked mask price

Target 8

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s attorney general is reviewing the actions of an Allendale Township hardware store after it hiked the price of individual dust masks amid a spike in demand for the product.

Attorney General Dana Nessel put out a news release Tuesday afternoon after Target 8 reached out about the True Value on M-45 breaking apart boxes and selling masks individually.

“Nessel cautioned consumers after learning that a west Michigan retailer was selling individual face masks – packaged in Ziploc bags – for $10 apiece,” the news release read in part.

A box of 20 masks usually goes for $28.99, or about $1.45 per mask.

The shop told Target 8 it was seeing a run on the masks and was trying to keep them on shelves for regular customers.

On Monday, Target 8 contacted the AG’s Office to ask for clarification on price gouging laws after viewers on Facebook mentioned it.

In the news release, AG Nessel said her office had reached out to True Value to gather more information because its action may be a violation of Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

Specifically, Nessel said the law makes it illegal to charge “the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property,” or cause “coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.”

“Those who think they can profit off the rising fears about coronavirus need to think again,” Nessel said.

“I will not hesitate to bring the hammer down on any person or business that uses this public health threat to feed their own greed,” she continued. “So, whether you run a national chain, a local store or are just looking for ways to get rich on eBay, the expectations are the same: follow the law. We are at the beginning of a unique and potentially difficult situation. It is my sincere hope that we will all pull together and help protect the most vulnerable among us.”

If you think a retailer is violating the Consumer Protection Act, Nessel’s office urges you to report it by calling 877.765.8388.

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