Price gouging complaint: Logan company sells buckets of 'Corona Crap' hand sanitizer for $477

Posted at 9:34 PM, May 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 08:55:55-04

LOGAN, Utah — The Utah Department of Consumer Protection is investigating a price gouging complaint involving a company in Logan that is selling buckets of hand sanitizer for almost 500 dollars.

EK USA manufactures the "Corona Crap" hand sanitizer, advertising the product on their website.

John Bishop said he saw a 1oz bottle of the product in the checkout line at the Fresh Market in Sugarhouse.

He said he made a last-minute decision to put the item in his cart until the cashier told him he might want to reconsider.

"Before she rang it up, she told me... 'You do realize these are 6 dollars?'" Bishop said. "You've got to be kidding!"

Bishop said he did not purchase the product, instead making sure to remember the name of the hand sanitizer so he could look it up online.

"I’ve never heard of EK USA," Bishop said. "Come to find out, they’re actually selling the same product on their website for $9.95."

Bishop said he was even more aggravated to learn it was a Utah company that he thinks is taking advantage of other locals' desperation.

According to the EK USA website, the company sells a bucket containing 48 individual 1oz bottles for $477.60.

Bishop said he isn't sure if the quality of "Corona Crap" lives up to its name, but he definitely feels like the prices are "crap."

"A couple weeks ago, we bought 16oz of hand sanitizer from the Five Wives Vodka Distillery and it was 10 dollars," Bishop said.

Brian Maxwell, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, said the department cannot comment on an ongoing investigation and that they investigate each complaint on a case-by-case basis.

The state does not give recommended prices for hand sanitizer or any other product, instead relying on the guidelines of the Price Controls During Emergencies Act.

RELATED STORY: FOX 13 Investigates: Price gouging during coronavirus pandemic

Bishop said he wanted to make it clear he's not upset with Fresh Market for selling the product and that he doesn't want to see the manufacturer EK USA punished.

"I think it would be nice for them to apologize and adjust their prices," Bishop said.

The CEO of EK USA, Ed Kalbach, said in a phone interview Sunday that the company is not price gouging.

“We make good profit margins,” he said. “It’s not your typical sanitizer... each bottle provides over 200 applications."

Kalbach he was unaware of an investigation, but the company is ready to defend itself against the allegation and any suppliers that don’t understand the price.

"A business becoming aware of an investigation can vary depending on the circumstances," Maxwell said.

A spokesperson for EK USA sent an email to FOX 13 on Monday, stating that the hand sanitizer should not be considered an "essential product" because "consumers have multiple choices when it comes to hand sanitizer."

Although Maxwell could not comment on the complaint, he said consumers having "multiple choices when it comes to hand sanitizer" is irrelevant.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection does consider hand sanitizer "necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of events giving rise to a state of emergency."

"We do consider hand sanitizer as covered by the statute, and the number of market options for a product covered by statute is not a factor in determining excessive pricing," Maxwell said. "We cannot speak to what any given company may assert. The Price Controls During Emergencies Act applies to a company without reference to other options in the market."

If you'd like to file a price gouging complaint, click here or call (801) 530 6300.