Three thousand Kiwis have complained about price-gouging during the coronavirus lockdown, new figures from the Government's dedicated email reveal.

Some reported feeling ripped off by the plumber and dentistry services. But most complaints have been made about prices of food such as bread, meat, eggs, fresh produce, milk, butter, rice and flour.

On March 30, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Kiwis could alert the Government to suspected price gouging during the lockdown.

There had been more than 1800 emails to the PriceWatch inbox by the evening of April 3 - a further 1200 have been made since.


However, the number could not be taken at face value, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson told the Herald.

"This total also includes emails unrelated to price concerns, duplicates and emails that are follow-up emails, providing further information."

A business could legally increase prices but could not provide false or misleading information as to why the price had increased.

The Fair Trading Act made misleading consumers illegal and complaints could be made to the Commerce Commission.

Complaints had also been made about the prices of hand sanitisers and face masks - especially at pharmacies.

Specific questions relating to individual retailers and firms would not be discussed while MBIE assessed the complaints, the spokesperson said.

Not all emails were negative, some had been sent to the address applauding the good practice businesses had shown during the lockdown.

But with shopping access restricted nationwide, there was still a concern businesses could try to exploit consumers.


People were asked to keep an eye out for any who might be trying to take advantage of others during the attempt to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Consumers were told to ask why prices had been increased and to work together with businesses around finding "suitable solutions".

Those wanting to alert the Government to price gouging were asked to send an email with photos and receipts to