Price gouging is a common term to describe when a seller charges “unreasonably excessive prices."
To file a complaint related to price gouging during a period of abnormal economic disruption, fill out an online complaint form, download and submit this form, or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128. Currently, the state is not in a period of abnormal economic disruption.
Does Wisconsin have a price gouging law?
When the Governor issues an executive order declaring a period of abnormal economic disruption
Wisconsin's Price Gouging Statute is triggered.
What is price gouging?
Price gouging is a common term to describe when a seller charges “unreasonably excessive prices".
What is an unreasonably excessive price?
During a period of abnormal economic disruption, an unreasonably excessive price is a price that is more than 15% higher than the seller’s highest price within the last 60 days preceding the emergency.
If a seller’s cost goes up, is that increase allowed to be passed on to consumers even if that means raising prices by more than 15%?
Yes. Prices are not considered abnormally excessive if the selling price does not exceed the seller's cost plus normal markup, including the direct and indirect costs to obtain, replace, or produce the consumer good or service. Often times, what consumers see as price gouging is really sellers passing on increased costs.
I’m a seller, what information do I need to support my price increase of more than 15%?
If your price increases by more than 15% above your highest price within the last 60 days preceding the emergency for the identical (or essentially identical) product, you are permitted to pass on this increase so long as the new price doesn’t exceed your new cost plus your normal markup. At the time the new price is offered, you must be able to support your new price by possessing and relying on accurate information that demonstrates the increase. Examples of evidence include but are not limited to invoices or price quotes dated before the price increase.
Are there any other instances when the price is allowed to increase by more than 15%?
Yes. Prices may also increase by more than 15% if the price is required by law or if the Governor’s order specifically exempted the sale from the declaration.
Are suppliers and manufacturers also prohibited from charging abnormally excessive prices?
Yes. The law applies to all sellers, including manufacturers, producers, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, or retailers.
If retailers have evidence that their costs have increased and raise prices accordingly, does that mean price gouging is not occurring?
Not necessarily. Suppliers are subject to the same regulations. A retailer may not be charging abnormally excessive prices if they are simply passing on their cost increases. However, increases in prices suppliers are charging retailers must also be justified.
What types of products or services are included?
During a declared emergency, the prohibition on charging abnormally excessive prices applies to any consumer good or service named in the order.
What is a consumer good or service?
Any good or service that is sold for use by consumers primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
What portion of the state is covered by a prohibition?
During a declared emergency, the prohibition applies to the portion of the state named in the order.
How do I file a complaint about price gouging?
To file a price gouging complaint on a purchase, make note of the seller, the store location, the product name and size, and the price, then fill out an online complaint form, download and submit this form, or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128.
If you download the Price Gouging During An Emergency Complaint Form, please deliver it to the Bureau of Business Trade Practices in any of the following ways:
Standard mail: DATCP, Bureau of Business Trade Practices, PO Box 8911, Madison WI 53708-891
Fax: (608) 224-4937
If you are a wholesaler or retailer with compliance questions, please contact Kevin LeRoy at
Kevin.Leroy@wisconsin.gov or (608) 224-2925. DATCP will continue updating this webpage with frequently asked questions.