Chinatown Supermarket Accused By City of COVID-19 Price Gouging
The city has been going after habitual price gougers taking advantage of customers during the COVID-19 crisis. This week the mayor the the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) filed lawsuits against three more businesses, including Hong Kong Supermarket at 157 Hester St.
According to a press release, the stores, have been “knowingly increasing prices in violation of DCWP’s regulations under the City’s Consumer Protection Law.” Violations were issued to the businesses for, “selling face masks, hand sanitizer, cough medicine and other products at drastically increased prices.”
Hong Kong Supermarket is accused of 139 violations of price gouging face masks, gloves, disinfect wipes and hand sanitizer. The city is seeking up to $69,500 in fines from the Chinatown store. The other stores cited by the city are Burns Pharmacy in Queens and Thomas Drugs on Columbus Avenue.
More details from the city release:
DCWP is actively inspecting stores based on consumer complaints. Businesses found to be overcharging consumers by 10 percent or more for any personal or household good or service that is needed to prevent or limit the spread of or treat COVID-19 will be issued a violation. Examples of covered products include disinfectants, soap, cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, and medicines. Since March 5, DCWP has received more than 7,200 complaints and issued more than 2,700 violations for price gouging.
At the Manhattan store on Hester Street, Hong Kong Supermarket, operators allegedly displayed hand-sanitizer wipes for $38 per tube. A slew of various types of masks were sold for up to $180 per box of 50 on March 13th, the summons against the supermarket reads. Several days later, a single N95 mask was on sale for $45, according to the summons. 4-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer were priced at $20 to $23. 50 surgical masks are typically $12 to $20 a pack, according to the summons. 4-ounce hand sanitizer bottles range from $1 to $3.
While Hong Kong Supermarket did not respond to requests for comment, a manager at Thomas Drugs told the New York Post that the store is marking up items as it normally would, but that wholesalers are demanding higher prices. If you think you’ve been overcharged, you can file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311 and saying “overcharge.”