Menards, Walmart among 16 retailers to receive DATCP price-gouging letters

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection sent cease and desist letters to 16 retailers accused of price gouging as consumers flocked to stores amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The stores the letters were sent to included Walmart stores in Milwaukee and Rhinelander, Menards stores in West Milwaukee, Burlington and online, Walgreens in Cudahy and Waukesha and El Rey Foodmart in Milwaukee.

The department said it had received dozens of consumer complaints and conducted price checking at more than 100 stores around the state. During a public health emergency, which Gov. Tony Evers declared on March 12, DATCP is able to enforce prohibitions on price gouging.

“While it is not uncommon for prices to increase during times of high demand or low supply DATCP will be closely monitoring the marketplace to ensure Wisconsin consumers are being treated fairly,” said Lara Sutherlin, administrator for the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection “Consumers can report their concerns to DATCP’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for evaluation and follow-up.”

State law prevents wholesale and retail companies from selling consumer goods or services “at unreasonably excessive prices” when the governor declares that a period of abnormal economic disruption exists.

Typically, sellers are not allowed to charge more than 15% above the highest price they had in the 60-day period before the emergency declaration. State law allows the department to either issue a warning to the seller or seek up to a $10,000 fine.

DATCP’s letters included issues the agency discovered on products like toilet paper, bleach, rice, water, limes, cookies, Lysol spray, milk, pinto beans, watermelon, surgical masks, hand cleaner, Lysol wipes and N95 masks.

See DATCP’s full list below:

Ace Hardware Delavan Chlorox Bleach/Toilet Paper
Asian International Market Milwaukee Rice
Dollar Tree Marinette Toilet Paper
El Rey Foodmart Milwaukee Rice, Bleach, Water
El Rey Foodmart Milwaukee Limes
El Rey Foodmart Milwaukee Bleach
Matrangas Racine Bottled Water
Pacific Produce Oak Creek Rice
Restaurant Depot Milwaukee Toilet paper, cookies
Walgreens Cudahy Toilet Paper
Walgreens Waukesha Lysol Spray
Walmart Milwaukee Toilet Paper
Walmart Rhinelander Milk
C&S Supermarket Milwaukee Rice
Cermak Milwaukee Pinto Beans
Cermak Milwaukee Watermelon
Grainger Online Surgical Masks
Marketplace Foods St. Croix Falls Toilet Paper
Menard’s West Milwaukee Hand Cleaner
Menard’s Burlington Lysol Wipes
Menard’s Online N95 Masks
Point Market Stevens Point Rice


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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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