We've heard about price gouging happening on the Central Coast, but we wanted to see if it's true, so we sent KION anchor Mary Coleman to some of the places viewers have claimed are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.
One of the first places we visited was La Princesa Market, a grocery store in East Salinas. We waiting in line to get in and once inside, we started hunting.
A KION viewer claimed La Princesa had higher prices on toilet paper and food, but when we arrived they were sold out of TP, and food prices appeared normal.
Our next stop was at another Salinas market--Espinoza Produce.
KION viewer Rosa Valenzuela tagged us in a post on Instagram saying, "wow...just wow. I'm all for supporting local but holy crap when they do this, that is bull."
She was talking about bottled water. We checked, and they're charging nearly $24 for a 12 pack of one liter Smart Water bottles. Online, we found the same product for around $17.
The Monterey County DA's office has already received price gouging reports.
“It is illegal during a declared emergency to increase prices over 10 percent what you were charging prior to the emergency for consumer goods, for medical supplies, for other supplies,” says Deputy DA Emily Hickok.
Our viewers alerted us to price changes at mostly mom and pop stores and customers say big chains seem to be keeping their prices the same.
“So far everyone’s maintained composure, i haven’t seen anything too crazy yet that you see on the internet,” says Salinas resident Ray Ortega.
The Monterey County DA's office says it will look into all the cases reported.
Potential punishment—jail time or fines of up to $10,000.
If you have seen this price gouging, you're encouraged to report it to the DA office. You can take a picture, save your receipt, or simply explain where you saw it.
You can fill out the consumer complaint form by clicking here. Once that is filled out, email it to email@example.com or mail it to 1200 Aguajito Road, Suite 301, Monterey, CA 93940. You can also call the DA's office at 831-647-7770