PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — During this tough economic time, price gouging can be a big issue for shoppers. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office received 1,600 price-gouging complaints from across the commonwealth. Among them includes one filed against a hardware store in South Philadelphia.
“What they’ve been doing is wrong,” Lindsey Powell said of Cohen and Company on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia.
When Powell walked into the store on Tuesday, she says the store owner tried selling her a single N-95 face mask for about $14. One usually sells for a few bucks.
“It’s disheartening,” Powell said. “You expect people to act with common decency in times like this especially.”
N-95 face masks are in such short supply, Vice President Mike Pence urged construction workers from across the country to donate them to medical centers.
Philly city leaders are working around-the-clock to find more masks for its hospitals.
“I am not aware of any business that has face masks,” Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.
Still, Cohen and Company store owner Mitchell Cohen insists his face mask prices are fair.
“Tell them to go online and see what the prices are. Again, I am paying more from the wholesalers. That’s all I gotta say about it,” Cohen said.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is reviewing a price gouging complaint filed against Cohen’s store.
“We’re going to continue to protect Pennsylvania consumers,” Shapiro said.
The attorney general also says he sent more than 50 cease-and-desist letters to businesses across the commonwealth due to price gouging.