Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is taking an Athens couple to court for allegedly hoarding hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic and selling them online for 11 times the retail price.
Marcus and Ellen Fultz sell products on Amazon under the name danielle-on-2nd. According to the lawsuit, the couple saw an opportunity to profit off the pandemic as the demand for health products skyrocketed. They rapidly acquired bulk quantities of hand sanitizer and listed them for sale, jacking up the price by as much as 1,017.3%.
Amazon records show the couple raked in over $26,700 from the sale of 600 Purell hand sanitizer products in February and March. Compared to the average cost of the same products sold on Amazon in January, the couple raised prices by 241.8% to 1,017.3%.
For example, Marcus and Ellen Fultz charged $39.44 for 8-ounce bottles of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, a product that cost $3.53 on Amazon prior to the pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed in Athens County Common Pleas Court, cites violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, saying the couple unfairly inflated prices in response to unforeseen events that caused an increase in demand during a national health crisis.
The state is asking the court to grant an order requiring them to reimburse affected customers and pay civil penalties.
On April 8, State Senators Nathan Manning and Steve Wilson introduced Senate Bill 301, legislation drafted in partnership with Yost’s office to establish consumer price-gouging protections in Ohio law. The bill is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This is appalling behavior and should be answered in a court of law,” Yost said. “Even more, it points out the need for a specific price-gouging law.”
Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.