Ala. price gouging law in effect during state public health emergency

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (Source: WSFA)
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (Source: WSFA)(WTVY News 4)
Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 11:13 AM CDT
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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is sending out a warning to those seeking to illegally profit from the current public health emergency that Alabama’s price gouging law has been activated.

Last Friday, March 13, Gov. Kay Ivey declared a State Public Health Emergency in Alabama relating to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state.

Alabama’s price gouging law comes into effect whenever the governor declares a state of emergency and it prohibits the “unconscionable pricing” of items for sale or rent.

“Alabamians should be on guard against those who would seek to prey upon them through price gouging of commodities and services for consumption or use as a direct result of the public health emergency,” said Marshall. “Furthermore, those who seek to profit during this time of emergency through price gouging will be subject to the law.”

It’s not specifically noted what constitutes an unconscionable price in state law, but a price that is 25 percent or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days is a prime case of unconscionable pricing, the AG’s office says. This is unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity.

The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated the law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

Alabamians who want to file an illegal price gouging report are encouraged to do so via the Alabama Attorney General’s Consumer Interest Division website, or by calling 1-800-392-5658 to receive a form by mail to complete and return.

You may also write the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, 501 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama, 36130.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.