KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Complaints of price gouging have residents wondering why some basic groceries, such as eggs, seem to cost a lot more downtown than in the suburbs.
Joseph Jackson said he was shocked Saturday to pay more than $6 for 18 eggs at Happy Foods on 31st Street. It’s one of few grocery stores in the urban core. He took a photo at another store on Prospect Avenue that’s selling two-and-a-half dozen eggs for more than $10.
Jackson and others have already filed complaints with the Missouri Attorney General, claiming price gouging.
“The Aldi is not having problems selling eggs at the same price,” Jackson said. “I think they may have went up about 40 cents, so you are still paying about the same price. You can get the same eggs at Price Chopper. They are no more higher. You can get the same eggs at Walmart. They are no more higher. The same truck that delivers to urban city areas also delivers to Price Chopper and everybody else. Why is it when eggs come to our neighborhood, they are more expensive, but when they go to another neighborhood, they are cheaper?”
A manager of Wild Woody’s Happy Foods declined to appear on camera but did provide a list of her store’s costs for eggs. Selling the 18 pack for $6.05 represents a mark up of 24 percent, according to the document she provided.
She said that the store needs to make a profit or it will soon have to lay off workers.
Since Jackson bought his eggs and filed his complaint, the store has reduced the price of 18 eggs to $4.48, which the store claims is its cost.
He also took photos of what he calls “rationing” of toilet paper. Some stores have broken apart the manufacturer’s packaging and re-wrapped two rolls on meat trays for resale.
Jackson has filed a complaint with the city’s health department questioning how sanitary that is.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says wholesale egg prices have tripled since the beginning of March. But according to a national report, many grocers are trying to hold the line on retail prices, selling eggs at a loss because they’re a cheap source of protein for low income families.
Yet, skyrocketing prices have gotten the attention of the U.S. Congress. U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver introduced a bill Wednesday to curb predatory pricing of essential goods and services during the pandemic.
Under the bill, prices more than 20 percent higher than the pre-crisis price are considered excessive.
How to file a price gouging complaint in Missouri
Take a photo with your cellphone of the price in store or your receipt from the retailer.
Call Mo. Attorney General’s office at (800) 952-5225
File a complaint in Missouri at: https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/price-gouging
File a complaint in Kansas at: https://ag.ks.gov/complaint-center