Investigation Results in Civil Judgement & Contribution of Face Masks to Food Bank & Med. Services

Continuing efforts to combat unlawful price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced today that her office resolved a civil action against a local retailer known as Save-On Supplies, based in Dublin. On April 3, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that prohibits a business from selling consumer products that it did not sell before the pandemic emergency for more than 50% over its wholesale costs.

In this case, after receiving complaints about high prices, the District Attorney found that Save-On was charging more for face masks, including surgical masks and KN95 masks, than allowed by the Governor’s order. For example, consumers reported that Save-On was charging $120 for a pack of 20 KN95 masks and $125 for a pack of 50 disposable masks. The investigation revealed that the markup for these products was far in excess of the amount allowed under the order.

Without admitting liability, Save-On cooperated in the investigation, and changed its pricing to conform with the order and come into compliance with the law.

“During a state of emergency, it is critically important that consumers are able to purchase goods necessary for their safety and well-being,” says District Attorney O’Malley. “We will continue to follow up on complaints from the community and investigate businesses which fail to follow the law or the Governor’s orders, sometimes taking civil action and sometimes criminal, as the situation demands. As we continue to battle an unprecedented public health crisis, my Office will be vigilant in combatting price gouging.”

As part of the stipulated judgment, the company was ordered to offer refunds to any consumer who may have paid more than allowable for the masks. It was also ordered to contribute, and has contributed, 5,000 surgical masks to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and 1,370 KN95 respirator masks to Alameda County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency, and to pay $18,000 in civil penalties.

The masks provided to the Food Bank and EMS Agency proved to be very helpful. “The donation from Save-On came at a perfect time, as our supply of masks was running low. We were able to continue to support our frontline health care providers and first responders with the PPE that they need to do their jobs,” states Jim Morrissey, ALCO EMS Supervisor, Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator.

To report suspected unlawful price gouging, contact the District Attorney’s Office at: pricegouging@acgov.org.

Posted on Aug 20, 2020