April 28, 2020 By Christian Murray
The Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection has filed a case against Key Food on Northern Boulevard accusing the store of price gouging.
Key Food, located at 86-02 Northern Blvd., is one of three businesses that is being prosecuted, with one in Manhattan and another in the Bronx.
Key Food is accused of hiking the prices on bleach and disinfectant wipes. DCWP has issued the supermarket with 29 violations and the store faces $14,500 fines. Each violation comes with a penalty of up to $500.
The case will go before the City’s Office of Administration Trials and Hearings, where a final determination will be made.
“Pricing gouging is not just immoral—it is illegal,” said DCWP Commissioner Loreli Salas in a statement. “We will not tolerate price gouging and it is shameful for businesses to take advantage of consumers during a public health crisis.”
Key Food could not be reached for comment.
DCWP is inspecting stores based on consumer complaints and is filing lawsuits against repeat offenders. The agency has filed seven cases– including against Key Food–since March 5 against serial price gougers.
Businesses that hike the price of any personal or household goods needed to prevent or limit the spread of COVID-19 by more than 10 percent are in violation.
The agency has received more than 8,800 complaints since March 5, when it first declared face masks in short supply and placed a 10 percent limit on how much the prices could be hiked.
DCWP then expanded the order—and the 10 percent limit– to include hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes on March 10 and then all personal and household items needed to combat COVID-19 from March 15 on.
The agency has issued 4,400 violations across the city since March 5.
DCWP is calling on consumers who have been overcharged to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311 and saying “overcharge.” Consumers are advised to keep their receipts.