Markey to Amazon: Don’t Allow Coronavirus-Inspired Price Gouging
Media reporting massive mark-ups for products such as hand sanitizer and face masks
Washington (March 4, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today called on Amazon to stop and prevent coronavirus-inspired price gouging on Amazon.com. Media is reporting sometimes massive mark-ups compared to normal retail prices, including a pack of 24 2oz bottles of Purell hand sanitizer that typically sells for less than $10 per box listed at $400. Last week, Amazon took appropriate first steps in response to reported price gouging when it announced that it had removed “tens of thousands” of listings and reiterated that sellers on its platform must comply with its Fair Pricing Policy, which warns of consequences when prices are “significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.” But continued reports of price gouging and a lack of transparency have left consumers exposed to unfair trade practices.
“No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “Internet-based retailers such as Amazon.com have a particular responsibility to guard against price gouging in current circumstances as consumers — who are finding the shelves of local brick-and-mortar stores bare, and who may wish to avoid venturing into crowded stores and shopping malls — turn to the internet.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.
Senator Markey asks Amazon to respond to the following questions:
- How does Amazon determine whether coronavirus-based price gouging is occurring on its platform?
- At what level is an item considered unfairly priced?
- How many price-gouging warnings has Amazon issued to sellers seeking to capitalize on the coronavirus? How many listings has Amazon removed or suspended?
- What additional resources is Amazon devoting to ensuring that coronavirus-based price gouging is not occurring on its platform?