The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has ordered Matt Colvin and Noah Colvin of Hixson to stop buying and selling medical goods and products following reports of possible price gouging while an investigation into their actions is underway.
The brothers were featured in a New York Times article about their recent actions in buying up items that have quickly become scarce in the coronavirus crisis. They bought the items in mass after first hitting Chattanooga area stores and then driving into Kentucky after word first broke about the deadly new virus strain.
Amazon, after coming under heavy criticism, eventually stopped the practice of allowing individuals to sell sought after health items at greatly inflated prices.
One of the brothers posed for a photo at a Hixson storage facility where he wound up with 17,700 hand sanitizers.
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III said he has reason to believe the brothers bought these items at stores in both Tennessee and Kentucky. He said, “We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it.
Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said, "The local District Attorney General's Office does not investigate or prosecute allegations of price gouging. However, the State Attorney General's Office led by Attorney General Herb Slatery does investigate and prosecute these matters.
"Yesterday, I received some citizen complaints about the allegations of price gouging and I immediately forwarded those concerns to the State Attorney General. Today, the Attorney General's Office has issued a cease and desist letter to the brothers.
"If any Hamilton County citizen wishes to file a complaint, you can visit the Attorney General's website and file a complaint via their online portal. This process would be the most efficient way to let voices be heard."
Attorney General Slatery also said, “During this pandemic, we ask that you report suspicious activity to the Division of Consumer Affairs and refrain from threatening or hostile communication with individuals or businesses you may suspect are price gouging. Our team will review complaints closely and we are prepared to act to protect Tennesseans.”
“This is a time where we have to focus on helping our neighbors, not profiting from them,” said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “We’re not going to tolerate selfish actions that put the health of Kentuckians at risk, and I’m grateful for Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s partnership in bringing an end to this harmful scheme.”
On Thursday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declared a state of emergency prompted by the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus. The declaration triggers the state’s anti-price gouging law which prohibits vendors from charging too much during a crisis tied to a state of emergency.
Under the law, the Attorney General’s Office can put a stop to price gouging and seek refunds for consumers. The courts may also impose civil penalties against price gougers for every violation. The law applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
Click here to file a complaint: https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/working-for-tennessee/consumer/file-a-complaint.html.
Report as many details as possible such as the name and location of the merchant, the date and time of your purchase, the method of payment, the price of the item in days prior to the sudden price increase, and the price you paid. Always keep your receipts. Include pictures of the displayed price if possible.