State officials are reminding the public that certain essential goods and services sold on the island of Maui are still subject to a price freeze due to the governor’s seventh emergency proclamation related to wildfires.
Mana Moriarty, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection said these price freezes were first ordered on Aug. 9, and that specific essential goods and services must be sold at pre-emergency price levels.
“Our office will investigate complaints and prosecute any offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” said Moriarty in a news release. “Following a disaster, price freezes automatically come into effect to protect vulnerable consumers from businesses that would unfairly hike their prices to profit off that vulnerability.”
The seventh proclamation issued Sept. 8 outlines 14 specific goods and services, including food; water; dairy and non-dairy milk; ice; essential child care products including diapers, wipes and infant formula; and over-the-counter medicines and first aid/wound care products.
The list includes hygiene products including toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, hand soap and sanitizer, tissue, toilet paper and face masks; wheelchairs, crutches and walkers; and liquefied petroleum gas products including propane and butane.
Additionally, the list includes the sales and rentals of motor vehicles; repair of motor vehicles; self-service storage facility rentals; pet food and supplies; and residential rentals.
The seventh proclamation prohibits landlords from terminating tenancies resulting from a tenant’s failure to pay all or a portion of the rent or lease maintenance fees, utility charges, taxes, or other fees required by the rental agreement.
These restrictions apply only to residential — not commercial — leases on the island of Maui.
Goods and services not specifically identified in the seventh proclamation are no longer subject to the price freeze.
The prize freeze remains in effect until Nov. 6 unless terminated or superseded by another proclamation, and does not extend beyond the island of Maui.
Each item sold at a price above the pre-emergency price constitutes a violation of state law, according to OCP. Merchants caught doing so potentially face orders to pay restitution to consumers in addition to fines of between $500 and $10,000 per violation.
The public is encouraged to report instances of potential price gouging to the OCP through the Consumer Resource Center at 808-587-4272 or by emailing OCP@dcca.hawaii.gov.
Complaints can also be filed online at web2.dcca.hawaii.gov/ocpcomplaint.
The following essential items remain subject to the price freeze:
3. Dairy and non-dairy milk;
5. Essential childcare products including diapers, wipes, and infant formula;
6. Over-the-counter medicines including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and first aid and wound care products;
7. hygiene products including toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, hand soap and sanitizer, tissue, toilet paper, and face masks;
8. Durable medical equipment including wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers;
9. Liquified petroleum gas products including propane and butane;
10. Sales and rentals of motor vehicles;
11. Repair of motor vehicles, as defined in section 437B-1, HRS;
12. Rentals for the purpose of storing personal property in a self-service storage facility, as defined in part Ill, chapter 507, HRS;
13. Pet food and pet supplies; and
14. Rentals of residential dwellings.
Source: DCCA Office of Consumer Protection