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October 30, 2020
LANSING – The Michigan Department of Attorney General recently signed an agreement with an Ann Arbor business that allegedly violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) by engaging in practices such as price-gouging.
The agreement is with janitorial equipment supplier A.M. Cleaning & Supplies LLC. Attorney General Dana Nessel's office in late March opened an investigation into the business after receiving complaints that it had engaged in price-gouging practices by charging consumers excessively high prices for hand sanitizer, a frequently sought-out product during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The uptick in excessive pricing and other deceptive business practices have become an unfortunate side effect of the ongoing pandemic," Nessel said. "In response to this, my office has remained steadfast in our commitment to protecting Michiganders' pocketbooks, and I will continue to aggressively enforce the state's consumer protection laws to ensure they are not being taken advantage of."
The business agreed to an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), the terms of which include:
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- A one-time $4,500 payment to the Attorney General's office, with $3,500 to be used to reimburse affected consumers through a claims process. To be eligible for a reimbursement, a consumer must be able to substantiate that he or she had purchased specific hand sanitizers. The amount of money paid may depend on the number of claims made. Consumers who believe they have been overcharged A.M. Cleaning & Supplies for hand sanitizer can submit a claim by filing a consumer complaint online with the Attorney General's office, and should include with that any documents showing the purchase price and product(s).
- The Attorney General's office will make a one-time $100 payment to an Ypsilanti woman who provided an affidavit in this case after purchasing hand sanitizer at the store; and
- Assurance by the store that it will no longer sell goods at grossly excessive prices in the future.
The Attorney General's office had received several consumer complaints against A.M. Cleaning & Supplies that alleged the store drastically increased its prices of hand sanitizer. Complaints began after the business posted a message on social media advertising hand sanitizer at $60 for a 12-ounce bottle, $40 for an 8-ounce bottle and $20 for a 4-ounce bottle. Days before, the bottles were reportedly priced at $7.50, $5 and $2.50, respectively.
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Prior to taking action against the business, the Attorney General's office sent a cease and desist letter to A.M. Cleaning & Supplies on March 11. However, conflicting statements in the business' response to that, along with evidence obtained from consumers who purchased hand sanitizer at the store, led investigators to seek the subpoenas and continue their investigation. Additionally, the Attorney General's office filed a motion in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to enforce its civil investigative subpoena, along with a brief in support of that motion. The AVC was reached with the business earlier this month, resolving this matter without further legal action.
Click here to view a copy of the AVC.
To file a consumer complaint, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection website.
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