Customers complain of price gouging amid coronavirus outbreak

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ARLINGTON, Tenn. — It’s no secret that some Mid-South businesses are losing money due to concerns about the coronavirus. But now, some are accusing a select few businesses of profiting from the outbreak.

Danielle Tantoco said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she went to purchase two 12-packs of Charmin bathroom tissue on the Lowe’s website and was quoted a $94 delivery charge. It brought her grand total to an eye-watering $126.

“We’ve got Kleenex, we’ve got paper towels,” Tantoco said. “There’s other things that I can use — not toilet paper for $112.”

Lowe’s didn’t respond to WREG’s emails inquiring about their pricing, but Tantoco is suspicious, given demand for bathroom tissue due to coronavirus concerns.

“Just because I have to have it delivered, and you guys are the only ones that have it, that’s an exorbitant fee just to have something that’s considered a daily necessity,” she said.

Belinda Camp was equally surprised when she went to buy four bottles of hand sanitizer Thursday morning at the Arlington Travel Center on Airline Road.

“She rang me up; she told me it was gonna be $43, and I was like, what?” Camp said.

WREG went to Arlington Travel Center on Thursday afternoon and purchased a pack of sanitizer wipes for $7.99. We purchased a two-pack of hand sanitizer for $9.99. That comes out to $5 per two fluid ounce bottle.

At another Airline Road gas station, we found a similar-sized bottle of hand sanitizer for $1.99.

WREG called the number listed for Arlington Travel Center, but no one answered.

“I told her that I felt like you raised the price because of this virus, and she smiled real big, and I told her I wasn’t buying anything, and I walked out,” Camp said.

Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Thursday making it illegal to jack up prices for medical and emergency supplies.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Attorney General’s office told WREG that hand sanitizer would most likely fall into that category but couldn’t confirm how many people had filed price gouging complaints.

If you’d like to file a complaint, you can do so on the Attorney General’s website.

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