City Hall is serious about the anti-price gouging ordinance and shelter-in-place order put into effect in mid-March, and it shared the updated numbers Thursday morning to show what’s been done so far.
Fresno Price-Gouging Complaints
Code enforcement has investigated 246 complaints of price gouging. Its officers also have investigated 265 complaints of non-essential businesses continuing to operate.
Here are other results of that effort and Mayor Lee Brand’s shelter-in-place order announced March 18:
- Posted anti-price gouging signs at 513 businesses
- 246 complaints of price gouging
- 1 ($10,000) citation for price gouging
- 1 ($1,000) citation for failure to post notices
Here is a look at non-essential businesses failing to comply with the shelter-in-place order:
- 265 complaints of open businesses
- 89 notices to cease operations issued
- 3 ($1,000) citations issued to non-essential businesses
Price gouging can be reported by calling code enforcement, 559 621-8400, or through the FresGo app.
Watch: Northwest Fresno Liquor Store Fined $10K
Emergency Ordinance Addresses Price Gouging in Fresno
According to the city’s ordinance, “It is the intent of the City in enacting this act to protect residents from excessive and unjustified increases in the prices charged during or shortly after a declared state of emergency or local emergency for goods and services that are vital and necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers.”
Today the City issued $1,000 Administrative Citations on The Cigarette Store at 4848 E. Kings Canyon and High Society Smoke Shop at 1124 W. Shields for operating when they should be CLOSED!@FresnoBee @ABC30 @KSEE24 @KMJNOW @UnivisionNews @GVWire
— Miguel Arias (@MiguelArias_D3) March 29, 2020
Price Gouging Complaints Across the Country
The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department is activating a central fraud hotline (1-866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and has ordered U.S. attorneys across the nation to appoint special coronavirus fraud coordinators.
Consumers who want to report cases directly to their state’s authorities can go to this link, a website run by the National Association of Attorneys General.
This follows reports from across the country showing hand sanitizer at $60 a bottle and $1 a squirt. Chain stores offered $26 thermometers and face masks at the “everyday low price” of $39.95 a pair, while a convenience store touted toilet paper at $10 a roll.
A small slice of reports involved not high prices but false claims that products or services can detect or even cure the virus, which in most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms but can be deadly for some. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved no treatments or vaccines, and the National Institutes of Health says no scientific evidence exists to suggest alternative remedies help.
That hasn’t stopped the likes of televangelist Jim Bakker from pushing treatments with tiny silver particles and conspiracy theorist/Infowars host Alex Jones advertising toothpaste, creams, and other products on his radio show. Both were targets last week of cease-and-desist letters from New York’s attorney general, and the federal government has sent seven warning letters over false claims.