(The Center Square) – Regulators in the Wisconsin Capitol are telling more than a dozen stores and companies in the state to lower their prices.
The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) on Wednesday sent cease and desist orders to 16 companies after receiving several complaints of price gouging.
“While it is not uncommon for prices to increase during times of high demand or low supply, DATCP will be closely monitoring the marketplace to ensure Wisconsin consumers are being treated fairly,” Trade and Consumer Protection Administrator Lara Sutherlin said.
The list of gouged items include face masks, bleach and toilet paper, as well as beans and cookies. DATCP says there are also complaints of exorbitant price spikes for limes.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday said prices can go up in a situation like this. But they cannot jump dramatically.
"Wholesalers and retailers in this state are prohibited from selling consumer goods or services that are subject to the order at prices that are more than 15% higher than pre-emergency prices," the AG said in a statement.
Stores can pass along price increases to customers, and government mandated prices (like Wisconsin's minimum mark-up law) still apply.
“Our price gouging law protects Wisconsinites from being charged exorbitant prices due to a public health emergency,” Kaul said.
Kaul said anyone who thinks they are paying too much should fill out a complaint form at the DATCP website.