District Attorney Settles Price Gouging Case Against Safeway, Inc.

Investigation found that Safeway, Inc. sold hand sanitizer at prices that
violated Governor’s Order

Continuing her efforts to protect consumers during the pandemic, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced that her office, together with the Contra Costa County District Attorney, settled a price gouging case against Safeway, Inc. The investigation was prompted by a concerned citizen, who complained about the prices being charged by Safeway for two brands of hand sanitizer, Raff Distillerie Hand Sanitizer and Ocean Fresh Pump Gel Hand Sanitizer. The district attorneys’ investigation revealed that Safeway first began selling the products after the onset of the pandemic and had marked up both items more than 50% over its wholesale cost. This practice is prohibited by an April 2020 emergency order issued by Governor Newsom related to price gouging during the COVID-19 crisis.

Safeway cooperated fully in the investigation and took immediate steps to correct the pricing discrepancy when called to its attention.

“During this unprecedented crisis, my office continues to remain vigilant in ensuring that Californians are able to purchase consumer goods, particularly health-related items such as hand sanitizer, at prices that do not exceed the amount allowed by law,” District Attorney O’Malley said. “Anyone who believes he or she has been subject to unlawful pricing should immediately contact my office.”

The judgment requires Safeway to ensure that its prices comply with California law, including any emergency orders duly issued by the Governor. Without admitting liability, Safeway was ordered to pay approximately $81,000 in civil penalties and costs, and $62,000 in restitution.

Complaints about alleged price gouging can be sent to the following dedicated email address: pricegouging@acgov.org.

Posted on Oct 21, 2020