PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - One thing that really gets people fired up during this pandemic is price gouging, and 2 Arizona congressmen are hoping to start an investigation into a company that they say is ripping off police and firefighters. Representatives Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton complained to the U.S. Attorney General's Office and to the Federal Trade Commission that a company is charging the Phoenix Police Department and Fire Department way more for N95 masks than they used to. In a joint letter, they called it "shameful and un-American conduct."
“You have to pay 500% markup for equipment that is usually not as expensive as they are charging,” Rep. Gallego said.
The letter was an official request for the FTC to immediately open an investigation into the alleged illegal behavior.
“This company, the activity that they’re engaging in, it’s gonna be a black mark on their personal reputations for the rest of their lives,” Rep. Stanton said.
The lawmakers also say the vendor is changing the typical payment agreement, requiring the departments to pre-pay, rather than pay once the masks arrive. These types of actions, they say, will stretch beyond just the City of Phoenix.
“We’re pretty sure that this particular vendor probably has other city contracts in other parts of the Valley and the country,” Gallego said. “We just happen to be the biggest city and aren’t afraid to take this type of price gouging on.”
“The first thing we want them to do is stop it!” Stanton said. “And allow Phoenix Fire, Phoenix Police, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, all the other agencies that need this important, life-saving equipment and the right price, at the appropriate price, as quickly as possible.”
While what happens next is up to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Stanton is hoping he’ll issue a restraining order, and prevent the company from selling the masks to someone else.