Oregon settles with companies accused of COVID-19 price-gouging

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on Tuesday that her office has settled with five companies on consumer protection violations related to the pandemic.

Posted: Nov 17, 2020 11:24 AM

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon's Department of Justice has settled with five companies accused of price-gouging and other consumer protection complaints related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced Tuesday.

The companies named in the settlements include two major convenience store chains, a Portland-based sock merchant, a travel firm, and a skincare company.

“As Oregonians continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, these actions are a reminder that as your AG, I will not tolerate price gouging and other unconscionable trade practices,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Most businesses are following the law. Those that are not should take note: the Oregon Department of Justice will investigate, and we will hold you accountable. The penalties for violations are significant.”

Rosenblum's office said that these settlements are known as "Assurances of Voluntary Compliance," requiring the businesses to pay between $12,500 and $21,500, depending on the severity and number of violations.

The highest penalty went to convenience store chain Plaid Pantry, accused of charging "unconscionably excessive prices" for face masks. Rosenblum's office said that the DOJ received a complaint in the spring that Plaid Pantry was selling a four-pack of face masks for seemingly inflated prices.

"The investigation revealed Plaid Pantry purchased these masks at a cost of $4.50 per four pack and sold 9,000 of them between May and June for nearly double the purchase price," the AG's office said.

Also in March, the DOJ received similar complaints about prices on individual masks sold at 7-Eleven stores. Both chains later agreed to stop charging excessive prices for face masks.

Two other DOJ investigations involved businesses claiming that their products could "prevent, cure, or mitigate the effects of COVID-19." Live Your Colour, Inc. agreed to pay $15,000 for advertising that its silk socks could protect against COVID-19, the AG's office said. Bend-based skincare company Sher-Ray, Inc. advertised one of its products, an aromatherapy diffuser blend called “Respiratory Remedy” as a possible way to prevent getting COVID-19.

Both businesses agreed to stop making claims about their products' efficacy relating to COVID-19 without scientific evidence to support it.

Finally, the DOJ looked into the refund practices of EF Tours, a travel company that had arranged educational trips for more than 1,500 Oregon high school students and teachers. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to "increase the amount of refunds offered to consumers in accordance with Oregon law," the AG's office said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 2461
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35145568
Washington23569229
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Clackamas15499204
Lane11722144
Jackson9984127
Umatilla798483
Deschutes721472
Linn418763
Yamhill412575
Klamath353759
Polk346452
Malheur343058
Josephine307862
Douglas305765
Benton275418
Jefferson207432
Coos198431
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Union141824
Lincoln130520
Wasco130228
Hood River113029
Morrow108115
Clatsop9008
Crook89119
Baker86114
Curry5999
Tillamook5833
Grant4204
Lake4147
Harney3136
Wallowa1575
Gilliam571
Sherman571
Wheeler261
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Reported Deaths: 61122
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Riverside2976204547
San Bernardino2949734561
San Diego2753683674
Orange2691764900
Santa Clara1173172017
Kern1080131331
Sacramento1016651647
Fresno1007021646
Alameda855831477
Ventura803321002
San Joaquin717351334
Contra Costa67157782
Stanislaus605831032
Tulare49443831
Monterey43301364
San Mateo41226560
San Francisco36094529
Santa Barbara33926446
Solano32047239
Merced31289453
Sonoma29720311
Imperial27995719
Kings22781245
Placer21908283
San Luis Obispo20991257
Madera16289240
Santa Cruz15666204
Marin13868226
Yolo13572200
Shasta11747219
Butte11601196
El Dorado9797109
Napa971579
Sutter9299109
Yuba612744
San Benito598963
Lassen567924
Tehama544556
Nevada448975
Tuolumne408664
Mendocino399347
Humboldt363138
Amador362946
Lake341643
Glenn235825
Colusa220416
Calaveras206252
Siskiyou196521
Inyo141838
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Modoc4904
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