(The Center Square) — Five companies based in Oregon will pay thousands in a settlement with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for overcharging customers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The companies in question are two convenience store chains, a Portland-based sock seller, a travel agency, 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,” Rosenblum said. “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 was charged by Gov. Kate Brown with investigating price gouging complains during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March.
The attorney general's office has since reported receiving more than 1,000 allegations of price gouging.
Each business will pay fines ranging from $12,500 to $21,500, depending on the severity and number of violations, Rosenblum's office reports.
Plaid Pantry saw the highest fines for changing $4.50 for a four-pack of face masks earlier this spring, selling 9,000 of them between May and June at double the average retail price, according to the attorney general's office.
Similar complaints were reportedly received by the Oregon Department of Justice from customers of 7-Eleven stores in Portland, Salem and Eugene.
The convenience store chain has since agreed to comply with Oregon’s price-gouging law.
Two Oregon businesses also agreed to settlements with the Oregon DOJ for selling products advertised as protections against COVID-19.
Live Your Colour, Inc. will pay $15,000 for selling silk socks it claimed could protect against COVID-19.
Bend organic skincare company Sher-Ray, Inc. will also pay an undisclosed amount for selling an aromatherapy as a cure for the virus.
The two businesses, the attorney general's office reports, have agreed to stop advertising any products that could cure or mitigate COVID-19 without evidence.
Travel agency EF Tours is accused by the attorney general's office of organizing educational trips around the country and abroad this year for more than 1,500 of Oregon high school students and teachers.
The company has agreed to increase its cash refund option amounts.
Brown took executive action this September banning price gouging related to wildfire evacuations.
Oregon workplaces have spurred a wave of OSHA complaints during the pandemic over past months.
Thousands of Oregonian businesses will be shut down in the meantime during Brown's partial shutdown of the state economy as the pandemic spreads.