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03/18/2020

Michigan accuses Menards of price gouging

Midwest home improvement kingpin Menards has been accused of price gouging by Michigan’s attorney general.

The state has sent Menards a cease and desist order for engaging in unlawful business practices.

According to the attorney general’s office, Menards doubled the price of cleaning products and face masks.

The state said it began receiving complaints against the retailer last week. In one instance, a shopper at the company’s South Haven store attempted to purchase a container of bleach. But they were then told by a Menards employee that they needed to take a shelf tag to register and that the price for the bleach had doubled.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, in a letter sent to Menards, said several state investigators witnessed the price gouging firsthand.

“Menards appears to have grossly elevated prices,” Nessel said. “Items like bleach that were sold at one price were apparently sold minutes later at prices approximately twice which others had paid. The price consumers were charged for the face masks, whether with or without the rebate, appear grossly in excess of the prices for comparable masks our investigators found for sale at competitors like Lowes and Home Depot.”

“In the context of the media stories about the mounting public health threat caused by Coronavirus, Menards' pricing actions this past week serve only to fuel anxiety and promote hoarding,” Nessel added.

The attorney general’s office said its next step is to file a civil lawsuit or commence a full investigation.

HBSDealer could not reach Menards for comment regarding the allegations.