MANALAPAN, NJ – A Manalapan business was recently named among a dozen merchants accused of consumer protection violations with penalties totaling thousands of dollars, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. The companies were fined for violations ranging from price gouging to false or unsubstantiated antibody tests.
The penalties tied to each violation carry fines ranging from $500 to $12,500, with the largest penalty issued to Manalapan’s Performance Supply LLC for allegedly making false and misleading statements in advertising N95 mask respirators to the New York City Office of Citywide Procurement.
The Division of Consumer Affairs alleges that the company’s quote for respirators falsely indicated that the company was an authorized distributor and offered to sell seven million face masks (which retailed between $1.02 and $1.31) for $6.05 and $6.35 each, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
“The Division is working tirelessly during this pandemic to protect consumers from threats to their health in the form of unsubstantiated claims and predatory pricing on personal protective equipment,” said Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez in a statement.
“We are committed to reviewing and investigating every complaint to ensure that merchants operate responsibly and refrain from unscrupulous behaviors, including violating our price gouging laws, at a time when many New Jerseyans are facing significant financial hardship.”
Two Garden State businesses were also cited for making false or unsubstantiated COVID-19 antibody tests: Hudson Drug of Cresskill was fined $3,000 for advertising at-home COVID-19 antibody tests (contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions), while Retro Fitness of Rockaway was fined $2,000 for allegedly making unsubstantiated claims related to antibody testing available to club members.
The Division of Consumer Affairs has sent upwards of 1,800 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic, and issued 110 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
New Jersey’s price-gouging law prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after its termination. Price-gouging and other consumer fraud violations are punishable by civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for the second and subsequent violations., according to the Attorney General’s Office.
A price increase is considered excessive if the new price is more than 10 percent higher than the price charged during the normal course of business prior to the state of emergency.
The following establishments received violations and were fined for alleged price gouging on items such as bottled water, rice, face masks and disinfectant spray:
Performance Supply LLC, 3 Westbrook Way, Manalapan, $12,500
Bravo Supermarket, Inc., 1567 E. State Street, Trenton, $5,750
Food Fair La Gran Marqueta, 946-956 Market Street, Paterson, $5,250
Siya Cash and Carry LLC, 175 Tonnelle Avenue, Jersey City, $1,750
Super Fresh Pine Tree Supermarket, 19 Belleville Avenue, Bloomfield, $1,250
Compare Foods Super Market, 847 Roebling Avenue, Trenton, $1,250
The following merchants received violations and were fined $500 for their alleged failure to post selling prices for merchandise such as bottled water, toilet paper and sanitizers, a violation of the Merchandise Pricing Statute:
Exxon Gas, 2000 Route 66 East, Neptune
News Plus, 138 Baldwin Road, Parsippany
Shell, 456 Albin Court, Ridgewood
Delta Food Mart, 801 West Elizabeth Avenue, Linden
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