File this under things everyone already knew was going on. As we wrote the other day, no one likes high prices, but they’re part of the current market conditions. Consumers are seeing the effects of the laws of supply and demand on a daily basis as they shop for guns and, more acutely, ammunition.
But there’s a difference between market-driven price increases and outright gouging. Mention the term ‘gouging’ to just about any firearms consumer and one seller almost immediately comes to mind: the ironically named Cheaper Than Dirt.
Their eye-popping surge pricing dates back at least to the post-Sandy Hook gun run. Now — finally — the Fort Worth retailer’s business practices have attracted the attention of the Texas Attorney General.
Form the Austin American-Statesman . . .
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has accused the Fort Worth-based website Cheaper Than Dirt, which primarily sells firearms, ammunition and hunting gear, of price gouging at the start of the pandemic.
The AG’s office identified over 4,000 sales that involved price gouging and has directed Cheaper Than Dirt to pay $402,786 in refunds to consumers, according to court documents filed this month.
Over 100 people have complained to the AG’s office about Cheaper Than Dirt, the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this year.
Early on in the pandemic-fueled buying binge, readers were sending us screen grabs from CTD’s site showing cases of 5.56 ammo priced at $970. This was at a time when other retailers were selling the same ammo at somewhere around $450. But that apparently wasn’t all consumers were seeing.
Additionally, the following weekend that Abbott issued the disaster declaration, Cheaper Than Dirt manually raised its prices outside of its normal schedule.
“Making these manual ‘real-time’ price changes caused confusion for consumers because the prices consumers saw on the website pages when selecting items for purchase were different from the prices that appeared in the final check-out cart,” the AG’s office said in court documents.
And now it will apparently cost them in the mid six figures.
EDIT: over on TTAG’s Instagram page, we captured some of CTD’s shenanigans: