ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Photos have circulated around the internet of bare Tampa Bay-area shelves where health-related products like hand sanitizer, face masks and anti-bacterial wipes once were.
Now, some Florida consumers are reporting businesses advertising an exorbitant amount for those products.
Complaints have come into the Florida Attorney General’s office alleging businesses are charging 25-times the normal amount for face masks.
One person said that business off Manatee Avenue in Bradenton was charging $100 for a box of 10 disposable anti-viral face masks.
Typically, a package of 100 masks costs about $4, according to data from Keepa, a company that tracks prices on Amazon. CVS currently charges $12.49 for 50, however, they are out of stock.
The other six complaints claim retailers on Amazon are overcharging.
A consumer from Brooksville claims, "I was looking for surgical masks. The seller had the price listed at $34.99. Amazon shipping for a box measuring not bigger than a tissue box under a pound. With delivery in 10 days. Over $180USD! With the coronavirus approaching I would say this is unreasonable."
Another person from Summerfield, says they purchased an N95 mask and paid $58 for it.
The Attorney General’s office has reached out to Amazon regarding the complaints that mention the company and is forwarding all complaints to Amazon.
The Attorney General’s Office also explained how a public health emergency differs from a state of emergency.
During a state of emergency, the state launches a price-gouging hotline and takes in complaints via the AG’s No Scam app.
“While the Florida price gouging statute, F.S.S. 501.160, is not triggered by public health emergencies, our office continues to review complaints and will aggressively pursue any misleading marketing regarding health claims or scams during this public health emergency,” says Kylie Mason, the spokesperson from the Attorney General’s Office in a statement to 10Investigates.
“Manufacturers and sellers should be forewarned that our office will pursue any complaints we find actionable.”
Anyone with concerns about scams can report them by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM or online at myfloridalegal.com.
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