Wisconsin's Price Gouging Law

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Wis. Stat. § 100.305, Wisconsin's price gouging s​tatute, was created by 2005 Wisconsin Act 450. In addition to prohibiting charging “unreasonably excessive prices," the statute also directs DATCP to write administrative rules to establish formulas or standards used in determining “whether a wholesale or retail price is unreasonably excessive." Those standards can be found in Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 106.

What is Wisconsin's Price Gouging Law?​​​

In order for the price gouging law to be enforced, Wis. Stats. § 100.305(2) requires that the Governor issue an executive order certifying that “the state or a part of the state is in a period of abnormal economic disruption." This means a period of time in which the state, or a part of the state, is experiencing a disruption (or a threat of disruption) to normal business transactions due to an emergency. The Governor's executive order determines the scope of the disruption​ and may specify a geographic area and the types of products or services disrupted.

Once declared, wholesalers and retailers in the specified geographic area are prohibited from selling consumer goods or services that are subject to the order at prices that are more than 15% higher than pre-emergency prices. However, retailers are permitted to pass on their cost increases, including increases in the cost to replace the goods being sold, plus their normal markup. Sellers are also exempted from the price gouging prohibition if the price is required by law or if ​the emergency declaration exempted the sale from coverage.

Penalties for violating the price gouging statute may include a civil forfeiture of up to $10,000.​​

When Prices Suddenly Increase, is it Gouging?​

It's not unusual to see an increase in prices with sudden increases in demand or decreases in supply. This can be frustrating and consumers may feel like they are being taken advantage of. However, most of the time these increases are legitimate and sellers are simply p​assing on increases in their own cost, which is allowable under Wisconsin's price gouging regulations.

When demand is high and supply is short, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers all experience increases in costs to expedite bringing additional products to market. These costs could include higher manufacturing costs and higher costs for shipping and handling.​​

For more information on the price gouging law, read the Price Gouging FAQ​.​

​Filing a complaint​

​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:

If you choose to download the Price Gouging During An Emergency Complaint Form, please deliver it to the DATCP Bureau of Business Trade Practices in any of the following ways: