How to Report Price-Gouging in Ohio
Ohio attorneys on protecting yourself against excessive pricesBy Beth Taylor | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 22, 2023 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorneys Troy Doucet and Daniel J. Myers
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During the COVID-19 crisis, avoiding the virus and staying well were at the forefront of most people’s minds. But consumer law attorneys pointed out legal concerns arising from the pandemic that also called for caution. One of them was price-gouging of needed supplies and services, such as astronomical prices for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, bottled water, disinfectant, and certain medical supplies.
While concerns over exorbitant prices and hoarding have receded with the COVID-19 pandemic, high prices remain a concern for consumers, whether in a public health emergency or not. While Ohio doesn’t have a specific price gouging law, excessive price increases during a state of emergency fall under a general consumer practices statute.
“Ohio law has a provision that prohibits sellers from charging a price substantially in excess of like items for sale,” explains Troy Doucet with Doucet Co. in Dublin, Ohio. Nevertheless, Doucet notes, Ohio’s attorney general is pushing for a stronger anti-gouging law.
Consumer Protection Against Excessive Prices
What should consumers do if they feel they are being overcharged?
1. File a Price Gouging Complaint with the Attorney General’s Office
“While there are mechanisms in the law for a consumer to hold a business directly accountable,” says Doucet, “the easiest way to resolve this kind of issue would be to contact the state’s attorney general.” That agency, he says, “will be on the lookout for this kind of thing, and I expect would act quickly.”
2. Make Sure Businesses Honor Refund Requests
In addition, when supplies of basic items run short due to demand and supply chain concerns, consumers should make sure that businesses honor requests for refunds.
“In Ohio, most companies are required to tell consumers if they won’t be delivering the promised services within eight weeks of the deposit payment and offer consumers refunds if they don’t deliver the services they promised within eight weeks of the deposit being paid,” says Dan Myers, with Myers Law in Cleveland.
3. Be Aware of the Risks of Purchasing Gift Cards
A public health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic was also not necessarily the best time to buy a gift card. “There were some companies in very bad financial shape, and buying a gift card from one of them was a big gamble,” warns Myers.
Other Resources for Price Changes and Consumer Goods
If you suspect price gouging and need legal guidance for combating or reporting it, visit the Super Lawyers directory to find an experienced consumer law attorney in your area. For additional information on this area of law, see our overviews of consumer law and antitrust litigation.
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