Is price gouging illegal in California?
Yes, in certain circumstances. California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods & services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared. Beginning March 1st, 2020, the United States was declared under a state of emergency due to COVID-19.
What goods & services are covered by the statute?
The law applies to the following major necessities: lodging (including permanent or temporary rental housing, hotels, motels, & mobile-homes); food & drink (including food & drink for animals); emergency supplies such as water, flashlights, radios, batteries, candles, blankets, soaps, diapers, temporary shelters, tape, toiletries, plywood, nails, & hammers; & medical supplies such as prescription & nonprescription medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol, & antibacterial products.
It also applies to other goods & services including: home heating oil; building materials, including lumber, construction tools, & windows; transportation; freight; storage services; gasoline & other motor fuels; & repair & reconstruction services.
The goods & services listed above are just examples; the statute's protections are not strictly limited to these items.
What are the consequences of violating the statute?
Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to both criminal prosecution and civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.
If you think you have experienced price gouging while shopping during the pandemic, contact us to discuss your rights during this state of emergency.
Further information can be provided at the below link.