Ebels investigated for price-gouging; Owner says just trying to help

On the left, sits a coreless roll of 1,000 sheet toilet paper being sold at Ebels for a pack of two. On the right, sits an average roll of toilet paper which averages to around 300 sheets of paper per roll.

FALMOUTH — Ebels in Falmouth has been accused of price-gouging toilet paper but the owner is saying the store did no such thing.

In a letter from the Attorney General's office dated March 23, Ebels was informed it was being investigated for price-gouging.

"When we got the letter, it cut the family deep," said co-owner Bob Ebles. "That totally goes against what we stand for as a family."

Early this month, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned residents to watch for businesses engaging in price-gouging amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent press release from the Attorney General’s office, a business may be engaging in price-gouging if it is charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold and causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, the Attorney General’s office had received a total of 1,578 complaints of price-gouging related to COVID-19.

But Ebels is saying the Falmouth store was selling much larger rolls than it normally provides as its normal product had been exhausted.

"Our normal supply channels for toilet paper were exhausted, so we looked to our other suppliers to have product for our customers," Ebels wrote in response to the AG's letter. "We ordered industrial toilet paper, so we had something to offer our customers."

The rolls that were being sold at Ebels had around 1,000 sheets of paper per roll where the average roll has around 300, Ebels said, and that is why consumers were seeing two rolls being sold for $3.99.

The toilet paper, purchased at 36 rolls per case, cost the store $66.29 per case. The store then put two rolls in a plastic bag and marked it at $3.99 for two rolls. The gross profit was $5.53 per case.

"We aren't in this to make money, we just wanted to help out where we could," Ebels said.

Ebels also said that if there were any questions regarding the store's prices, customers are more than welcome to ask for an owner.

"We are in the store every day and are more than willing to help," he said. "If someone was curious as to why the toilet paper was priced the way it was, all they had to do was ask."

Cadillac News