What is Price Gouging?
Price gouging refers to the dramatic price increases that follow an “abnormal disruption of the market,” as declared by the governor. Such proclamations are usually made after unexpected natural disasters, but can be attributed to any event that that affects Oregonians, whether within the state or outside its borders.
In the wake of such disasters, Oregon law protects consumers from being charged excessive prices for essential consumer goods and services. These include food, shelter, bottled water, fuel and other items necessary for the health, safety and welfare of Oregonians.
Exceptions to Price Gouging
Merchants and wholesalers are prohibited from increasing their prices 15% or more above the amount immediately prior to the governor’s declaration. However, it may not be considered price gouging if the increase is attributable of any of the following:
- Additional costs imposed by suppliers.
- Added expenses for the business to procure the essential goods or services due to the emergency. For example, the supplies had to be airlifted into an otherwise inaccessible area.
- Increased internal costs or expenses related to the declaration such as overtime pay, additional staff, security, distribution, etc.
- Scheduled price or cost increases unrelated to the abnormal disruption of the market.
Reporting Price Gouging Violations
If you have been charged an excessive price for a product or service under normal circumstances, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 1-877-877-9392, or using the online Consumer Complaint Form ».
If the governor declares that “an abnormal disruption of the market” has occurred, the Oregon Department of Justice will issue special instructions for reporting price gouging.