Accused of COVID price gouging, Calgary company pleads guilty and admits to ‘grossly excessive’ prices

A Calgary company accused of COVID-related price-gouging has been fined after pleading guilty to a charge under the Consumer Protection Act.

Following an anonymous complaint in April, investigators found CCA Logistics was charging “grossly excessive” prices on COVID-related items like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.

The company was initially ordered to remove the items — $120 masks and $39 hand sanitizer — but when undercover investigators returned to the store, they discovered CCA had not fully complied.

Although no PPE items were sold to customers, the undercover investigator did secure an “offer of sale,” which ultimately led to the charges under the Consumer Protection Act.

CCA lawyer Pawel Milczarek said the exorbitant prices were driven by higher costs on the supplier side. He also said the general wording of the order did not make clear which items his clients were required to remove.

“Ultimately there’s been significant damage to a company that is otherwise above board and without incident,” said Milczarek. 

Even before charges were laid, CCA had donated PPE items to a hospital and the Red Cross in China, according to Milczarek, who also said his client contributed to a group that donated 70,000 masks to places like Alpha House and the Mustard Seed in Calgary. 

The company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the order, which is different from price gouging. CCA has always maintained its suppliers were charging more, which is why its prices were so high.

Provincial court Judge Heather Lamoureux accepted the plea and the joint submission for a $1,500 fine proposed by Milczarek and prosecutor Steven Johnston.

A charge against owner Yan Gong was withdrawn.

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