Businesses in Jackson Heights, the Bronx and Manhattan have racked up additional fines for allegedly selling face masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizers to consumers at illegally inflated prices.
The city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) announced on Tuesday its latest crackdown on price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. The three businesses could wind up paying a combined $55,500 in fines for the illegal practice.
One Bronx business, Flannery Home Center at 3395 East Tremont Ave. in the Schuylerville section, was hit with 73 violations for price gouging on face masks, hand sanitizers and gloves. They could wind up paying $36,500 in DCWP fines for the practice.
A Jackson Heights supermarket — the Key Food located at 86-02 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights — also received 29 violations for illegally inflating the prices for bleach and disinfectant wipes. The DCWP seeks to fine the business up to $14,500.
Finally, the New West End Superette at 271 West 72nd Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan faces up to $4,500 in fines after DCWP inspectors issued nine violations for bleach and hand sanitizer price gouging.
“Price gouging is not just immoral — it is illegal,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We will not tolerate price gouging and it is shameful for businesses to take advantage of consumers during a public health crisis.”
Soon after the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the DCWP declared items such as hand sanitizers, face masks and disinfectant wipes as being in short supply. The declaration forbade businesses from increasing the price of these goods by 10 percent or more for at least 60 days.
Consumers across the city were asked to report suspected price gouging to 311. More than 8,800 such complaints have been filed with the DCWP since March 5, and the agency has issued more than 4,400 price gouging violations to retailers. Seven lawsuits have been filed since March 25 against repeat offenders who have committed 389 violations.
Anyone who believes they were illegally overcharged should call 311 or visit nyc.gov/dcwp to file a complaint. The agency advises consumers to keep their receipts and provide information about the store where the gouging occurred.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.