Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown asking Governor Brown to immediately declare an “abnormal disruption of the market” in Oregon pursuant to ORS 401.965. Oregon law authorizes the Oregon Governor to declare an abnormal disruption of the market in response to “any emergency that prevents ready availability of essential consumer goods or services.” This declaration will allow the Oregon Attorney General to take action against any business, or online vendor, who upsells the price of essential consumer goods by more than 15 percent. The Attorney General has also instituted a new hotline phone number staffed by Oregon DOJ employees for reports of price gouging.
Full letter from the Attorney General can be found here.
“For the past week, we have heard from Oregonians from across the state who are reporting everything from the higher price of toilet paper, to the higher price of cleaning disinfectant. Once the Governor declares an abnormal disruption of the market, my office is able to take action and follow-up with consumer complaints about reports of price gouging from large grocery stores to smaller businesses,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “During this COVID-19 public health emergency, I want Oregonians to know that my office is open for business, and we want to hear from Oregonians as to what is going on in the marketplace.”
The Oregon DOJ’s new hotline for reporting price gouging is 503-378-8442. Consumers can also still visit www.OregonConsumer.gov.
In the letter to the Governor, the Attorney General cited two consumer complaints received last week:
• A pharmacy is allegedly selling toilet paper for $22.99, and the consumer believes the same brand and size of toilet paper “typically sells for $9.99-12.99” at the same store.
• A grocery store in Central Oregon allegedly sold 2 bottles of rubbing alcohol for $4 each when the same bottle “normally sell[s] for 1 dollar”. The person also said the store marked up a disinfectant cleaner from $3 dollars to $9.99.
More information on Oregon’s price gouging statute can be found here: https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/sales-scams-fraud/price-gouging/
Late last week, the Attorney General also asked all Oregon DOJ employees who are able to work remotely to work do so, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. All DOJ operations, child support branches, and other legal offices are open for business.