State Sues Athens Couple For Alleged Hand Sanitizer Price Gouging Scheme< < Back to
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOUB) — The state is taking an Athens couple to court over an alleged scheme to hoard and sell hand sanitizer for 11 times the retail price during the coronavirus pandemic.
The office of Attorney General Dave Yost claimed in a press release Thursday that Marcus and Ellen Fultz saw an opportunity to profit off the pandemic as the demand for health products skyrocketed.
Ellen Fultz is the executive director of major giving at Ohio University. She is now on administrative leave pending the investigation.
The couple, according to the lawsuit, sell products on Amazon under the name danielle-on-2nd. They rapidly acquired bulk quantities of hand sanitizer and listed them for sale, jacking up the price by as much as 1,017.3%.
“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.”
The state acquired Amazon records they claim 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%.
An example highlighted by the state claims Marcus and Ellen 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.
State Senators Nathan Manning and Steve Wilson introduced Senate Bill 301 on April 8, 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.
Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices are asked to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.