When Governor Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10, North Carolina’s price-gouging law went into effect, empowering Attorney General Josh Stein to seek refunds for consumers forced to pay too much during a crisis. (Courts can also impose fines of up to $5,000 per violation on the unscrupulous bastards who took advantage of a bad situation to line their pockets.) By March 18, the AG’s Office had received 136 price-gouging complaints, according to records obtained by the INDY. Of those, 22 were based in Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties. Below are 10 allegations of price-gouging that we found of particular interest. 

Complaint 1

Date: March 17

Where: Purchased via computer after Wake County complainant responded to printed advertisement 

Product: Toilet paper (unspecified amount)

From: Darryl Honeycutt (no contact information provided)

Amount in Dispute: $5,000 (cash)

Complaint 2

Date: March 17

Where: eBay (complainant lives in California)

Product: Alcohol (rubbing, presumably), Equate, 32 oz.

From: josgr-567, Fayetteville

Price Before Disaster: “$1.48 per bottle at Walmart”

Price After Disaster: $200

Complaint 3

Date: March 14 and March 16

Where: Via internet (complainant lives in Charlotte)

Product: Mega toilet paper, Charmin, 1 roll

From: Factory Hardware Store, Wilmington

Price Before Disaster: “Unsure what they charged before, but no way a single roll of toilet paper costs near the current amount”

Price After Disaster: $83.13

Complaint 4

Date: March 16

Where: Via internet

(complainant lives in Ohio)

Product: Toilet paper, Seventh Generation 2-ply, 4 rolls

From: Factory Hardware Store, Wilmington

Price: $89

Explanation: “Claims it is [sic] was for a 12 pack on the review I wrote but it was not. They have since removed the 4 pack for $89 from their website.” 

Complaint 5

Date: March 16

Where: Staples, Durham

Product: Lysol wipes, 3-pack

Price Before Disaster: $10

How Do You Know the Pre-Disaster Price? “I’ve bought them before.”

Price After Disaster: $25

Complaint 6

Date: March 11

Where: Walmart, Brunswick County

Product: Toilet tissue, Walmart brand, 24 rolls

Price Before Disaster: $12.97

Price After Disaster: $20.97

Explanation: “Last night, I purchase toilet tissue WalMart brand of 24 rolls when I went to the register it was almost double the price of $20.97. Previously purchased the same at $12.97 Even my daughter in law was shocked She looked up on line while we were waiting for the store to “price check” the item. On line it was in stock and priced at $12.97 When we got home, we were going to send it to my email and then I was going to print it out. This morning is now ‘out of stock’ and no price given. Considering the ‘run’ on certain items due to the ‘Pandemic’ this is an emergency and WalMart should not be gouging its customers.”

Complaint 7

Date: March 10

Where: Craiglist (complainant lives in Fayetteville)

Product: Hand sanitizer

Price Before Disaster: $3.10

Price After Disaster: $50

Complaint 8

Date: March 13

Where: Costco, Mooresville

Product: Kirkland water bottles,16.9 oz., 40-500-ml

Price Before Disaster: $2.99

Price After Disaster: $7

Complaint 9

Date: March 17

Where: Citywide Janitorial, Charlotte

Product: Hand sanitizer, 1,000 ml

Price Before Disaster: $5.99

Price After Disaster: $94

Complaint 10

Date: February 15

Where: Amazon (complainant from Raleigh)

Product: Hand sanitizer, 12 8 oz. bottles

Price Before Disaster: $40

Price After Disaster: $145

Explanation: “I ordered 12 8oz bottles, got email from seller stating they used wrong barcode & would refund me 25% of the order & send me 12 2oz bottles. I contacted Amazon, they credited me back $30 and said to reorder. I challenged the Amazon Rep to find it for me. They looked and he was shocked. I asked what the seller has it listed for now & he said $145.00. They credited me back enough money to re-purchase, but I was continually saying, just to send me the hand sanitizer for the order I placed, order was accepted, etc. It was stressful as my order was for my daughters teacher in middle school! Amazon Rep stated issue is with seller & myself… I corrected & said my account is with Amazon, & that amazon makes more money the higher the sales, so Amazon is allowing this price gouging!! I said someone from Amazon needs to contact me, but I have heard from nobody!!”

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at jbillman@indyweek.com. 

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