Home Courts Safeway Settles Consumer Protection Case For Pandemic Price Gouging

Safeway Settles Consumer Protection Case For Pandemic Price Gouging

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From the office of the district attorney:

Martinez, Calif. – Today, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announces a $140,000 settlement against Pleasanton-based Safeway, Inc. as part of a settlement of a civil consumer protection investigation involving price gouging. Specifically, Safeway was charging above the legal limit for two products of hand sanitizer. The investigation was conducted with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Specifically, Safeway started selling Raff Distillerie Hand Sanitizer and Ocean Fresh Pump Gel Hand Sanitizer after Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order related to price gouging during the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order specifically prohibits a business from charging an excessive amount for a product they sell.

“The violations at issue here are serious by their very nature. Little can be more serious than a violation of a Governor’s Emergency Order during a State of Emergency. The ongoing pandemic has affected the lives and personal hygiene practices of millions of people in California,” District Attorney Becton stated. “Public health officials were advising constant handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus. If soap and water was not available, hand sanitizer was recommended as the next best thing. These are the items that Safeway sold or offered for sale at ‘unconscionably excessive’ prices.”

When the pricing issue was brought to Safeway’s attention, they immediately responded and corrected the prices to comport with the Governor’s Order. The investigation did not reveal any other actionable price gouging violations by Safeway.

According to the data provided by Safeway, the number of Ocean Fresh units sold or offered for sale at such prices was 65,088 and the number of Raff Distillerie units sold or offered for sale at such prices was 22,713. Thus, the total number of potential violations is 87,801. A violation under state law occurs when a product is individually sold above the legally permissible price.

In total, the consumer protection investigation found Safeway sold the products as follows:

  *   Raff Distillerie Hand Sanitizer
     *   Sold at $5.99 ($1.84 mark up per unit, 47 cents higher than allowed)

  *   Ocean Fresh Pump Gel Hand Sanitizer
     *   Sold at $9.99 ($4 mark up per unit, $1.01 higher than allowed)

A local consumer contacted the DA’s Office Consumer Fraud Hotline at 925-957-8608 and notified our Office in May about potential price gouging at a Safeway location in Concord. Since March, our Office has received and investigated a significant number of complaints related to possible cases of price gouging in the county. Residents can also email DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.org<mailto:DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.org> to report any consumer issues during the pandemic.


  1. So the DA’s office is concerned when Safeway marks something up a back too high, or 47 cents. But won’t go after real crimes. Unbelievable.

    • I concur. How many of the recent local rioters & looters were arrested and charged?

      How many high school drug dealers, gang members and pedophiles are arrested?

    • I agree. This new DA is not doing anything about local crime they’re trying to grandstand over hand sanitizers at Safeway. It’s really kind of clear, as she made in her statements few weeks ago, that she will no longer prosecute shoplifters or small criminals. So while they try to steal Safeway and Walgreens blind, she’s more concerned with the price of sanitizers going up….. But she’s doing with all the social activists DA are doing after they won their positions through huge contributions from activist billionaire George Soros who seems to want to break America.

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