A supermarket has been cited by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs for allegedly jacking up prices for Cheerios in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Food Fair – La Gran Marqueta, a large supermarket at 946 Market Street, allegedly sold Cheerios Giant Size between March 14 and March 20 at $7.49 and $9.19, prices far higher than what was offered in the usual course of business before governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency.
Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9. Businesses are barred from charging excessive prices on goods and services during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after its termination. A price is considered excessive if the new price is more than 10 percent higher than the pre-emergency price and the price increase is not attributable to extra costs imposed by supplier or additional cost of providing the product or service in a state of emergency, said authorities.
Food Fair which is owned by 950 Meat & Grocery Inc. has been levied a $5,250 penalty for the alleged price gouging. 950 Meat & Grocery Inc. has 15 days to file an appeal. If it loses the case it could face a steeper $10,000 penalty, authorities said.
Six businesses in New Jersey were issued notice of violations for jacking up prices of bottled water, rice, face masks, and disinfectant spray. Other five businesses issued penalties for alleged price gouging are:
- Performance Supply LLC, 3 Westbrook Way, Manalapan,$12,500
- Bravo Supermarket, Inc., 1567 E. State Street, Trenton,$5,750
- Siya Cash and Carry LLC,175 Tonnelle Avenue, Jersey City,$1,750
- Super Fresh Pine Tree Supermarket,19 Belleville Avenue, Bloomfield,$1,250
- Compare Foods Super Market, 847 Roebling Avenue, Trenton,$1,250.
Four businesses were each assessed $500 fines for failing to post selling prices for merchandise like bottled water, toilet paper, and sanitizers which violates the Merchandise Pricing Statute. Those businesses are:
- Exxon Gas, 2000 Route 66 East, Neptune
- News Plus, 138 Baldwin Road, Parsippany
- Shell, 456 Albin Court, Ridgewood
- Delta Food Mart, 801 West Elizabeth Avenue, Linden.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we made clear that we would take a tough stand on price gouging and other abuses of New Jersey consumers,” said attorney general Gurbir Grewal on Monday. “Enlisting the help of residents to report unconscionable practices works. Most businesses are following the law. For those that are not, these actions are a reminder that the penalties for violations are significant.”
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has issued 1,884 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of engaging in price gouging during the pandemic.
Consumers can report fraud or businesses engaging in price gouging in response to the Covid-19 pandemic on the Division of Consumer Affairs website by clicking here.
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