Michigan AG signs agreement with Ann Arbor company after alleged price gouging

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. She said her office will not consider a request from the University of Michigan to investigate sexual assault allegations against Dr. Robert E. Anderson unless they waive all privileges. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP) (Matthew Dae Smith)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Attorney General has signed an agreement with Ann Arbor janitorial equipment supplier A.M. Cleaning & Supplies LLC after it allegedly violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

In late March, AG Dana Nessel’s office opened an investigation into the business after receiving complaints about price gouging practices. Price gouging involves charging consumers excessively high prices for goods or services.

Eleven consumer complaints were received against A.M. Cleaning & Supplies alleging that it had drastically increased prices of hand sanitizer, a sought-out product during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The uptick in excessive pricing and other deceptive business practices have become an unfortunate side effect of the ongoing pandemic,” Nessel said in a release. “In response to this, my office has remained steadfast in our commitment to protecting Michiganders' pocketbooks, and I will continue to aggressively enforce the state’s consumer protection laws to ensure they are not being taken advantage of.”

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Complaints were received after the Ann Arbor business posted a tweet on its Twitter page advertising 4-to-12-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer being sold for $20-$60 per bottle, respectively, according to a release from the AG’s office.

The release states that bottles were reportedly priced between $2.50-$7.50 days before the social media message.

On March 11, the AG’s office sent a cease and desist letter to the company. Conflicting statements regarding the business’s response led the office to seek subpoenas and continue its investigation. A motion and supportive brief were filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to enforce the AG’s civil investigative subpoena, according to the release.

An Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) was agreed upon in October by the Attorney General’s office and A.M. Cleaning & Supplies, L.L.C.

Per the release, the AVC includes:

  • A one-time $4,500 payment to the AG’s office. Of that money, $3,500 to be reimbursed to affected consumers through a claims process.
  • A one-time $100 payment by the Attorney General’s office to an Ypsilanti woman who provided a receipt and an affidavit after purchasing hand sanitizer at the store.
  • Assurance by A.M. Cleaning & Supplies, L.L.C. that the company will not sell products with “grossly excessive prices” in the future.

Consumers must be able to provide evidence they had purchased specific hand sanitizers if they want to be eligible for reimbursement. The reimbursed amount will depend on the number of claims filed. Claims can be submitted online to the AG’s office here by filing a consumer complaint.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.