Price Gouging in Pennsylvania Still a Huge Problem at Stores Like This One
Plus: Watch Patti LaBelle and a gospel choir tear the roof off at last night's COVID-19 relief concert.
A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.
Price Gouging in Pennsylvania Still a Huge Problem
We’ve heard lots of lovely stories about how people, businesses and institutions are coming together and showing the best parts of themselves during the coronavirus. But there are also those who aren’t.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro knows this latter fact all too well. His office has been investigating accusations of price gouging in the Philadelphia region and across the state. According to Shapiro’s spokesperson, the AG’s office received 4,881 complaints as of Thursday. That’s a whole lot of complaints.
In the vast majority of price gouging cases, the AG’s office simply issues a cease-and-desist letter, and the businesses cease and desist. But in other cases, the AG’s office has to play hardball, taking businesses to court and outing them publicly.
The latest business to run afoul of the AG’s office in this way was EZ Dollar on Snyder Avenue in South Philly. According to the AG’s investigation, EZ Dollar was selling tiny two-ounce hand sanitizers for $5.99 each as well as overpriced face masks. For comparison, CVS sells two-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for $1.59 each.
If you’re wondering what constitutes price gouging, state law makes it simple. Any business that increases the price of a product by more than 20 percent during a state of emergency like this one is guilty of price gouging. So if you were selling package of toilet paper for $10 before the pandemic, you can go ahead and sell it for $12 now. But not $12.01 or more. That’s price gouging.
According to the terms of the settlement, EZ Dollar must pay $600 in fines to the state plus restitution to anybody who bought the overpriced hand sanitizer or face masks there.
The AG’s office sent us some other examples of price gouging in Philly that were resolved without involving the courts:
- Grocery store selling small bottles of rubbing alcohol for $6.99
- Grocery store selling small bottles of bleach for $6.00
- Hardware store selling disinfectant spray for $10.79 that normally sells for $3.89
(The office does not name businesses that voluntary comply with the cease-and-desist orders.)
“We won’t tolerate illegal price gouging during this emergency, and we’ll act to stop it,” Shapiro said on Thursday. “Pennsylvanians need financial protection right now, especially when so many have lost wages and one in three have lost work. You have a right in Pennsylvania to purchase life-saving goods at reasonable prices in times like these. If you see suspicious price increases on products like groceries and medicine, I encourage you to email email@example.com and fill out a complaint form so we can put a stop to price gouging.”
All You Need to Know About Last Night’s COVID Relief Concert Is This: Patti LaBelle
On Thursday night, Philly (and formerly Philly) music stars came together for PHLove, a televised/streamed concert for COVID relief. Think of it as Live Aid but virtual, because, you know, we can’t exactly get together for anything like Live Aid anytime soon.
Daryl Hall and Amos Lee did their yawny Daryl Hall and Amos Lee things. Questlove, ya know, DJ’d. Of course, Jerry “Energizer Bunny” Blavat had to make some remarks.
If you missed PHLove, you can watch the entire hourlong concert online if you want to. But if you want to just skip to the really fantastically good part, otherwise known as Wynnewood’s own Patti LaBelle, I’ve got you covered. The woman is a frigging gem:
The Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church gospel choir killed it as well:
The concert was set up to raise awareness and money for the PHL COVID-19 Fund. You can read all about that fund (and make a donation!) here.
Don’t Know What to Do Memorial Day Weekend in Philly?
You probably know by now that Mayor Kenney, health commissioner Tom Farley, Governor Tom Wolf, and Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine have all told you to stay the heck away from the Jersey Shore over Memorial Day Weekend.
And, frankly, the weather in Philly is much better than it is at the Jersey Shore this weekend, so you might always want to avoid the beach for purely selfish reasons.
Either way, you can’t just sit in your house all weekend. After all, that’s what you’ve probably been doing all week. So I put together this handy guide: 8 Things to Do Outdoors Over Memorial Day Weekend That Don’t Involve Going Down the Shore.
Enjoy, and by all means, stay safe!