Michigan sends cease and desist letter to Menards for alleged price gouging

The Michigan Department of Attorney General sent a cease and desist letter to Menards after receiving 18 complaints about the high prices of face masks, bleach and other products.

Investigators discovered the store last week doubled the price of cleaning products like bleach and significantly raised the price of face masks, the state said.

One of the complaints came from a customer of the South Haven store. The customer alleged the price of a bottle of bleach was normally $2.54, but the store was charging $4.99. The customer made the complaint on March 11

“Big box stores are not immune to the Michigan Consumer Protection Act or the Governor’s Executive Order,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Large corporations must also play by the rules, and my office will work diligently to ensure this state’s consumers are treated fairly and not abused by businesses seeking to unlawfully jack prices up to line their pockets with profits at the expense of the public during this time of great need.”

Menards has 10 days to respond to the letter or the Attorney General will further investigate and possibly take legal action.

Due to the high number of complaints related to COVID-19, Attorney General Nessel has extended hours of operation for her Consumer Protection intake team, making phone lines available until 11 p.m. today.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Sunday to specifically address price-gouging related to COVID-19. It states products can't be sold at more than 20-percent higher than what the product was listed as of March 9 unless the higher price is due to an increase in the cost of bringing the product to the store.

Michigan residents are urged to report any violation of the Consumer Protection Act online or by calling 877-765-8388.

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