Now is not the time to charge consumers large sums for essential items. Fear of illness, along with anxiety over unstable sources of income is permeating across the U.S. And unfortunately, some companies capitalize on these feelings of panic.

I am grateful that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley’s office is investigating price-gouging amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. This will help ensure our community has access to necessary supplies, without paying exorbitant prices, like when I was shopping online for disinfectant wipes and found some being sold for $30 — three times their original price.

To protect yourself from price gouging, you can use price trackers to view a product’s historical average. It’s also important to compare the price of products per unit and to avoid buying bulk products being sold individually. Lastly, remember to check the ingredients of the products you buy: The only things known to kill the virus are soap and water and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol by volume.

We should be cautious of this exploitive practice. I should not have had to scavenge through online retailers for reasonably priced disinfectant wipes — especially when they’re being sold out in local stores. If you notice unfair pricing, report it right away, and call upon your representative to take action.


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