UPDATE: Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has reached a resolution with Matthew Colvin and Noah Colvin to resolve allegations of price gouging in violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
The two brothers traveled around the region to buy up hand sanitizer, hoping to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts resulted in nearly 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and drew the attention of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office after news reports.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office began their investigation on March 14th, after learning about alleged price gouging involving emergency and/or medical supplies by Matthew and Noah Colvin during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Colvin brothers cooperated with investigators and surrendered all their supplies, including approximately 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, to a nonprofit organization in Tennessee. They also agreed to the distribution of a portion of the supplies to officials in Kentucky.
“Disrupting necessary supplies during an unprecedented pandemic is a serious offense,” said General Slatery. “It became clear during our investigation that the Colvins realized this, and their prompt cooperation and donation led to an outcome that actually benefited some consumers.”
In the settlement, the Colvins are prohibited from selling emergency or medical supplies grossly in excess of the price generally charged during any declared state of abnormal economic disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Attorney General's Office has ordered Matt Colvin and Noah Colvin to stop buying and selling medical goods as they investigate reports of price gouging.
“We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it,” said Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III. “During this pandemic, we ask that you report suspicious activity to the Division of Consumer Affairs and refrain from threatening or hostile communication with individuals or businesses you may suspect are price gouging. Our team will review complaints closely and we are prepared to act to protect Tennesseans.”
The Attorney General is asking the public to report those who are price gouging during the state of emergency.
Colvin said on his website 'mattcolvin.com' that the hand sanitizer is being donated to a local church.
Channel 3 reached out to Colvin to find out when and where the donation is taking place. We have not heard back.
PREVIOUS STORY: A Hixson man is dominating headlines after the New York Times wrote about Matt Colvin, who stockpiled goods amid the coronavirus outbreak.
After the first COVID-19 death in the United States, Colvin went state-to state clearing out sanitizer shelves.
He now sits with nearly 18,000 unused bottles in his home and storage unit while people in the Tennessee Valley struggle to find one.
"The bulk of it was purchased just driving around to retail stores in the Chattanooga area," said Colvin.
Colvin bought the sanitizer with the intention of selling them for a profit on Amazon before they took his listings down. He says he felt a sense of panic when he was notified.
"Oh crap, is the PG way to say it," Colvin told Channel 3.
Though Colvin would not discuss on camera the exact prices he sold the sanitizer for, he told the New York Times in a recent interview that some items were listed at $70 a bottle.
"The pricing on Amazon was definitely higher than retail," said Colvin,
Colvin said he did not anticipate the struggle other families would go through as a result of the shortage.
"I saw a demand, that's what I have to say about that,"
Channel 3 asked Colvin if he would say he is sorry for purchasing the surplus. He replied with "No, I do not think that I would."
After receiving backlash online, Colvin says he is making plans to donate the rest of the sanitizer.
"With business, there is wins and there is losses. This is a situation where cutting my losses is the right thing to do," Colvin told Channel 3.
Tennessee price gouging laws make it unlawful for individuals to charge unreasonable prices for essential goods. It is not clear if hand sanitizer is considered one of those items.
Stay with Channel 3 both on air and inside the WRCB app for updates to this story.