Claiming to have removed millions of ‘price gouging’ products, Amazon stated that they are aggressively trying to bring down the situation. Various products like hand sanitizers and face masks were found to be targeted for price gouging. The price on all these items was increased noticeably, and after an open letter by Senator Ed Markey to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, the company has said that they are working towards it. The message was a warning to Amazon about sellers taking advantage of the human health emergency and that online retailers have a responsibility towards protecting their customers.
Brian Huseman, Vice President of Amazon Public Policy, stated that they are working with several state attorneys to prosecute those who have a hand in listing such products and in price gouging.
A letter was mailed to CNET by Amazon, which stated that “There is no place for price gouging on Amazon, and we will not tolerate attempts by bad actors to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis.”
At the end of February, Amazon also released a warning to its sellers not to indulge in price gouging. Else serious actions will be taken against the offenders.
Price gouging has taken over the market of not only Amazon but also other online retailers like eBay and Etsy. Sellers have reportedly created fake advertisements on limited stock and supply to create a state of emergency and have increased the price ‘sky-high.’ Amazon says that they are monitoring the situation continuously and will not tolerate price gouging of any items. Sellers who fail to follow will be prosecuted as well as banned from selling any item on Amazon.
eBay, on the other hand, has decided on banning and removing every listing on its marketplace related to face masks or hand sanitizers. eBay released a new policy that outlined the statement that all new and existing products listed under wipes, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, medical cures, face masks, will be taken down immediately without further notice.
According to eBay, it is their method to remove listings that are not only price gouging but also sellers trying to take advantage of any variation of the word ‘COVID-19’, ‘Corona-virus”, or ‘2019nCoV’. The notice further mentioned that the company would be monitoring the situation closely and keep evolving their terms and conditions. Such products may not follow US laws and regulations, and may even harm or hurt an individual buying it. Except for books, almost every product that mentions ‘COVID-19’ will be taken down.
After the outbreak of corona-virus, almost every online retailer and local store saw a huge rise in the price of hand sanitizers, wipes, and face masks. Sellers that had an existing stock of these items increased the amount and started selling them online. People with a fake sense of emergency started buying them, which resulted in price gouging. This activity is strictly against the US Laws, and hence online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay will be banning it.
The products like N95 and N100 masks were sold in a blink of an eye, that too at high prices. It resulted in the reduction of supply to medical helpers that needed it. CNBC reported that eBay has taken down more than 20,000 products that violated the rules price gouging. Also, the website has started pointing its users to their ‘disaster and tragedy policies’ to guide them from becoming the target of price gouging. The policy has statements that protect its users from third parties that profit itself from human tragedy and suffering.
Also, eBay and Amazon both have made changes to their search manipulation, where they have tried to filter products related to ‘corona-virus’ from appearing in the searches. Unlike eBay, Amazon has not taken any strict measures as they have not made any changes to their terms and conditions, or any other policy. The company is simply removing products that are price gouging, but how many sellers have been banned and will be taken strict actions against, have not been released by the company.