(WXYZ) — A Wyoming business has been accused of price-gouging and misrepresenting the types of face masks it was attempting to sell to an employee of a Lansing-area hospital.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office sent a cease and desist letter to Seek Everest LLC. The AG's office received a complaint from an anesthesiologist at Sparrow Hospital.
The business was allegedly trying to sell the medical employee face masks advertised as having the N-95 designation. However, the masks reportedly were being imported from China and may not offer the same protections as the N-95 versions.
The company allegedly indicated the masks were approved by the FDA and are "medically sterile."
According to the company's website, the masks are interchangeably labeled as N-95s and KN-95s; the KN-95s are concerning, the AG's office says, due to the number of counterfeit face masks coming from China.
The FDA has reportedly been reluctant to approve any masks coming from China.
The Attorney General’s letter also explains it appears Seek Everest is allegedly operating a drop-shipping business, but is trying to make consumers believe it is a manufacturer of goods.
The AG's office says drop-shippers create websites to collect payments from consumers, and then simply order the product from another company to have it shipped to the consumer.
"Often, this is done at a substantial mark-up, which means the consumer is also being price-gouged," the AG's office said.
The Sparrow Hospital employee’s complaint was corroborated by 16 additional consumer complaints about Seek Everest that were obtained by the Attorney General’s office from the Better Business Bureau.
A majority of those complaints focus on Chinese-manufactured ski pants that Seek Everest sold to consumers. Many of the ski pants were defective or did not match the sizes listed on the website, and Seek Everest reportedly denied refunds or other assistance when contacted by purchasers.
“Price-gouging, misrepresentation of goods and services, attempting to mislead or deceive customers, and failing to provide refunds appropriately – this all adds up to illegal activity under Michigan law and I won’t tolerate it,” Nessel said. “This business appears to have a poor track record, and now it is potentially putting Michiganders’ lives at risk by selling face masks under false pretenses. This type of behavior is not only unlawful, it’s morally reprehensible and it must stop.”
“This business appears to have a poor track record, and now it is potentially putting Michiganders’ lives at risk by selling face masks under false pretenses. This type of behavior is not only unlawful, it’s morally reprehensible and it must stop.”
Since it began tracking them in early March, the Attorney General’s office has received 3,541 price-gouging complaints related to COVID-19.
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