As reports of price-gouging related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) near 2,000, the Michigan Department of Attorney General has sent a cease and desist letter to a health care industry supplier for marketing face masks at exceptionally high prices.
Attorney General Dana Nessel sent the letter to DiaMedical USA Equipment Inc., based in Bloomfield Hills, after receiving a consumer complaint that the company is attempting to sell 10-packs of face masks through its website for nearly $100 each. Similar model masks are sold at between $1.50 to $2.40 per mask.
“Price-gouging has no place in our health care industry, especially during times of a public health crisis,” Nessel said. “Hospitals, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals depend on this equipment to perform their jobs and take care of people who are sick, and lives should not be put in jeopardy because businesses want higher profits.”
As of 7 a.m. on Friday, March 27, the Attorney General’s office had received 1,885 complaints of price-gouging related to COVID-19. That includes 811 complaints submitted online through the Attorney General’s website, and 1,074 received through the Consumer Protection tip line.
While price-gouging complaints continue to be filed, investigators at the Attorney General’s office have noticed positive shifts in the market, in part due to the efforts of consumers, who have helped police the market by shaming gougers on social media and by sharing their experiences and receipts with the Attorney General’s office. There have been recent instances in which investigators visited stores and found that, if there had been elevated prices, the situation had been corrected.
Consumers can file a complaint online or by calling the Consumer Protection tip line, 877-765-8388. Hours of operation are between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.