As many stock up, NC attorney general issues price-gouging warning after rash of early reports


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Veronica Childs is stocking up while staying positive.

“Just pray,” she said. “Don’t be in fear of stuff you can’t do anything about.”

Monday, she and others filled stores and cleared shelves amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The store is almost empty,” one shopper told CBS 17. “There’s no toilet paper in the store. There’s no hand sanitizer in the store at all.”

For Brent Talley at Hayes Barton Pharmacy, the only hand sanitizer to be found is in dispensers.

His pharmacy has been sold out of sanitizer for about two weeks.

“I think this is unprecedented for pretty much everybody,” Talley said. “It’s just frustrating. You want to be able to sell those things and help people out with that because that’s the main thing they’re looking for.”

Talley said he has seen products being sold online for prices higher than normal.

“We’ve seen some — like a really small 3-ounce, or 2-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, maybe a six or eight pack — for $70 bucks,” Talley said. “I just don’t understand it. It’s not any kind of way to conduct business.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said his office has received 72 complaints of price gouging related to the coronavirus since March 10.

According to Stein, the cases are linked to stores and online sales.

“We don’t want any snake oil salesman taking advantage of people’s fears,” Stein said.

Of the 72 reported complaints, nearly half of the cases are linked to groceries. The second most amounts of complaints are linked to hand sanitizer. Stein told CBS 17 the majority of these cases are in Wake County.

“People are afraid, people are confused and they’re seeing higher prices,” Stein said. “There are some out there that are doing wrong and trying to exploit people’s fear and desperation to make a quick buck.”

Stein said to be suspicious of any prices that seem higher than normal. Click here to make a report with the attorney general’s office.

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