Governor Declares ‘Abnormal Disruption’ To Fight Price Gouging 

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With overpriced toilet paper and hand sanitizer now a problem in Oregon, the attorney general wants to protect consumers from price gouging.

Gov. Kate Brown on Monday declared an “abnormal disruption of the market” due to the coronavirus epidemic, hours after Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum requested the declaration. It allows the attorney general to take action against unscrupulous businesses or vendors who inflate essential consumer goods by more than 15%. 

“I am sure you have seen that many common consumer goods are sold out in physical and online stores throughout the state,” Rosenblum wrote in her letter to Brown. “Cleaning and basic hygiene supplies (like hand sanitizer and toilet paper) are becoming especially hard to find.”

Oregon law authorizes the governor to make the declaration in response to “any emergency that prevents ready availability of essential consumer goods or services.” The declaration would allow the attorney general’s office to follow up on consumer complaints about overpriced products.

“For the past week, we have heard from Oregonians from across the state who are reporting everything from the higher price of toilet paper, to the higher price of cleaning disinfectant,” Rosenblum said in a statement.  

The attorney general’s office has received about a dozen complaints. In one report, a pharmacy sold $22.99 toilet paper that usually sold for about $10 to $13 in the same store. 

Another report said a grocery store in central Oregon sold two $1 bottles of rubbing alcohol for $4.That store had $3 disinfectant marked up to $9.99.

 The attorney general has a new hotline staffed for the public to report price gouging: 503-378-8442. Consumers can get information and file reports at www.OregonConsumer.gov.

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter @BenBotkin1.

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