ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Price gouging on baby formula is occurring across New York as the nationwide shortage continues.
Earlier in May, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert that warned retailers against price gouging and encouraged consumers to report it to her office.
Since then, the Office of the Attorney General has received several consumer complaints about baby formula overcharging at retailers across the State. In one instance, a consumer reported that a 19.8 ounce can Enfamil Nutramigen formula, which typically sells for $44.99, was being sold by an Erie County retailer for $59.99.
New York’s price gouging statute prohibits merchants from charging excessive prices for essential goods or services during abnormal market disruptions.
To address the reported incident, AG James issued cease-and-desist letters on May 27 to over 30 online and brick-and-mortar retailers across the state. These letters ordered the businesses to stop overcharging for baby formula immediately.
“It’s unconscionable that some retailers are taking advantage of the national baby formula shortage while parents are struggling to find food for their children,” Attorney General James said in a press release. “Amid this crisis, families already have enough to worry about and should not have to worry about being price gouged. We are warning all retailers that New York will not tolerate price gouging of baby formula, and I encourage anyone who sees this to continue reporting it to my office.”
Consumers are urged to report price gouging incidents to the OAG by filing a complaint online or calling 1-800-771-7755. When reporting, consumers are asked to provide the specific increased prices, dates, places they saw the increased prices and provide copies of their receipt and photos.
Parents having difficulty finding formula are encouraged to speak with their child’s doctor before attempting to water down formula or make their own.
Due to the nationwide shortage, OAG advises consumers to buy only as much formula as they need and not to unnecessarily stock up. Panic buying may intensify the shortage and could encourage sellers to engage in illegal price gouging.