Monday, May 03, 2010

Price Gouging and Water

There has been a lot of talk in the media about price gouging for water in the Boston area during the current water crisis. Attorney General Martha Coakley issued a statement on the issue on Sunday, and Gov. Deval Patrick instructed the Division of Standards to "closely monitor bottled water prices." This led us to wonder what this price gouging law is.

It isn't the AG regulation on price gouging, 940 CMR 3.18, because that regulation applies only to petroleum products. It also doesn't seem to be related to the gubernatorial state of emergency.

Our best guess is that the issue is with the item pricing law, MGL c.94, sections 184B-184E  which requires price tags on the item or on the shelf (with some exceptions). Presumably, a problem may arise where water is marked at one price but being sold for another. The Division of Standards is charged with enforcing "the item pricing law and the unit pricing regulations."

You can find more laws and regulations regarding item pricing at: