It's super frustrating watching people hoarding and upselling essential goods, sometimes with no consequence. Fortunately, B.C. price gougers won't have it so easy any longer. They can now get slapped with heavy fines and there's even a line for people to report offenders.
B.C.'s solicitor general Mike Farnsworth announced the changes on Sunday, April 19.
"In the past month, many of us have heard cases of price gouging or someone selling essential supplies illegally," said Farnsworth. "I can assure you, we will not allow these practices to continue."
Any business or individual caught selling items like masks at marked-up prices could get slapped with a $2,000 fine, he said. This includes resellers of medical and essential goods.
Police, bylaw officers, gaming inspectors, or other officers in the province can start handing out the tickets immediately, from now until the pandemic ends.
B.C. already had a system to report price gouging, but now there's a serious consequence to doing so. Farnsworth said to contact Consumer Protection BC if you spot anything fishy.
Even before announcing the ticket price, Rob Gialloreto, president and CEO of Consumer Protection BC said they've received almost 1,500 complaints in a statement.
Note that this was before the fines were announced. People called in, even though the company admitted they weren't sure if they could do anything.
Effective immediately, it's against the law to resell medical supplies and other essential goods for personal profi… https://t.co/LyiMG2luEr— BC Government News (@BC Government News)1587320104.0
"We're not totally sure what we can do about price-gouging at this point," wrote Consumer Protection BC on Thursday, April 16, days before the announcement.
B.C. isn't the only one taking action; Ontario installed a similar reporting line for businesses that are price gouging earlier.
After going online on Saturday, March 28, Ontario's line got over 8,400 complaints in just five days. This was after they brought in tickets of $750 for offenders.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Minister Mike Farnworth provides an update on compliance and enforc… https://t.co/jCoGPpoxql— BC Government News (@BC Government News)1587317114.0
The province has been plagued with resellers and price gougers since the early days of the pandemic, from Lysol "hustlers" to toilet paper resellers.
When asked how price gouging is defined, Farnsworth said that "you know it when you see it," and it's totally different from just turning a small profit and hopefully with these new fines in place people will be discouraged to try and make a quick buck off of vulnerable people.