When there is the kind of widespread fear and paranoia currently associated with the novel coronavirus, there will always be profiteers. And that’s what Amazon is contending with as it rushes to expel sellers it says are making false claims and even price-gouging.
Certain merchants appear to be taking advantage of the current situation surrounding a borderline pandemic that has stoked global concern. And while experts suggest that citizens continue to keep clean by using soap and water, hand sanitizers and disinfectants, there are sellers claiming that they have products that can actually cure coronavirus.
Amazon says it’s been tracking these false claims with a mix of manual and automated reviews of listings, and removing those that don’t pass the smell test. But there’s another problem, and that’s with pricing. Amazon says it considers “price gouging” to be a list price that’s significantly higher than prices listed recently on or off Amazon, and that there’s “no place” for it on their platform.
A Reuters reporter uncovered a recent listing for a 10-pack of N95 masks that was priced at $128, compared to the average price for that product of around $41. The listing was removed the following day.
Unfortunately, Amazon will need to be relentless in addressing this problem, as it continues to crop up despite the e-retailer’s efforts. We did our own search through the site and discovered a listing for six-packs of hand sanitizer for the list price of $596.