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Overpriced toilet paper rubs customer wrong way, lawsuit against Albertsons says


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – A woman paid almost double the regular price for toilet paper at a popular grocery store chain owned by Albertsons during the coronavirus pandemic, a California lawsuit claims.

In a proposed class action filed in California federal court, shopper and plaintiff Eleisha Redmond said she made purchases at a San Francisco Safeway, where she paid almost $19 for Angel Soft toilet paper. The lawsuit claims the regular price for the toilet paper is about $10 at that grocery store.

Albertsons did not respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.

The Idaho-based grocery store giant is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the country, with stores in 35 states and Washington, D.C. The company operates several grocery chains including Acme, Safeway, Shaw’s and United Supermarkets, according to the company’s website.

As the coronavirus spread, many people rushed to stock up on essential items like food and toilet paper. People were panic purchasing, and toilet paper flew off the shelves.

In many states, price gouging laws were in effect for coronavirus as states declared states of emergency, which means stores could not up the prices on essential items.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in April extending California’s price gouging prohibition, according to the lawsuit. It prohibited price increases of 10% of more.

The suit claims that several items at Albertsons stores exceeded that price increase, a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and a negligence claim.

“Unfortunately, Defendant sold numerous items far in excess of their pre-pandemic prices,” the suit states.

Redmond made a number of purchases at the Safeway, 2020 Market St., in San Francisco “in the days, weeks, and months after the governor of California declared a state of emergency, for items that Defendant priced far in excess of 10% above the pre-emergency price for such items,” according to the lawsuit.

Redmond is seeking actual and punitive damages for herself and on behalf of others “similarly situated,” the suit says.

Albertsons isn’t the only big-name store to be accused of price-gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. A federal class-action lawsuit accused Amazon, Walmart, Costco and several other stores of price-gouging eggs in California, McClatchy News previously reported.

“As in any time of economic turmoil, there are those who seek to profit from the misery of millions,” that lawsuit said.. “Defendants, who are producers, wholesalers, and retailers of eggs, comprise one such set of actors.”

Grocery prices in April also had the highest single-month increase the country has seen since 1974, according to McClatchy News.