A Southern Ohio couple is in big trouble with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. He claimed the pair hoarded hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer at the height of the COVID-19 panic. Then they turned around and sold them on Amazon for more than ten times the standard retail price.
On the receiving end of a lawsuit from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office are Marcus and Ellen Fultz of Athens, Ohio. The two sell products as third-party sellers on Amazon.com using the name ‘Danielle-on-2nd.’ According to the lawsuit, the two saw how desperate people were for health products when Ohio’s lockdown began. (I’m sure everyone can remember shelves stripped bare of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, thermometers, and shelf-stable grocery items.)
Yost said the pair saw an opportunity to make a buck off the fears of others.
I checked out the Danielle On 2nd storefront on Amazon. The reviews from customers were overwhelmingly positive. In the last 90 days, customers rated the store 97%. A customer in France thanked the store profusely for shipping tissues to them they were not able to get in their own country.
Among items listed on the store now are used books, toys, makeup, hair products, and grocery items.
The Alleged Crime
According to the lawsuit filed by Yost’s office, the Fultzes went around buying up bulk quantities of hand sanitizer. They listed the hand sanitizer for sale in their Amazon store after jacking up the price by as much as 1,000%.
“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 lawsuit claimed Amazon records show the earned $26,700 from the sale of 600 Purell hand sanitizer in February and March. Yost said the Fultzes charged between 250% and 1,000% more than the average charged by other sellers for the exact same product. For example, the two allegedly charged $39.44 for 8-ounce bottles of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel. Prior to the pandemic, that product that cost $3.53 on Amazon.
The Ohio AG filed the suit in Athens County Common Pleas Court. He claims the Fultzes violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act by unfairly inflating prices during a national health crisis.
The state asked the court to make the two reimburse their customers and pay fines to the state.
Senate Bill 301, which would establish price-gouging protections in Ohio, is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If you suspect unfair business practices, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.