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MASSPIRG calls for strong price gouging protections
Attorney General Healey’s proposal would make temporary measures permanent
BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Office of Attorney General held a hearing Wednesday on implementing stronger price gouging protections for consumers. MASSPIRG testified in support of Attorney General Maura Healey’s proposal to make permanent the emergency price gouging regulations put into place at the beginning of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The amendment to the price gouging regulations (940 CMR 3.18) prohibits any business from selling any goods or services necessary for the health, safety or welfare of the public for an unconscionably high price during a declared statewide or national emergency. Previously, the only existing state regulation related to price gouging addressed the sale of gasoline and other petroleum products.
“Attorney General Maura Healey has been and continues to be proactive in protecting Massachusetts consumers,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG. “These price gouging regulations will not only protect us from excessively high prices during a crisis, it will also protect our health. And in the case of a pandemic, it will help stop the spread of disease.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for this updated price gouging regulation. As the virus spreads throughout the country, it is especially important that unscrupulous sellers are not able to take advantage of consumers. MASSPIRG, along with other independent organizations and journalists, have documented multiple examples of price-gouging of items people need to protect themselves since the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30.
Over the last 12 weeks the attorney general’s office has reported receiving at least 497 price gouging complaints, half of them related to personal protective equipment (PPE). Those complaints came from consumers and hospitals and were made against 178 different vendors.
"The bottom line is that if the price of something skyrockets during a crisis -- or in anticipation of one -- it’s price gouging,” finished Cummings. “Whether it’s COVID 19, a tornado, hurricane or blizzard, businesses should not jack up their prices just because people are vulnerable. –That is wrong, and we support the attorney general’s efforts to stop it from happening."
The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.
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