COVID-19: Amazon to identify, prosecute its third-party sellers over price-gouging

Amazon Inc. has announced that it would work with the United State Attorney Generals to identify and prosecute third-party sellers, who are taking advantage of the fears of the Coronavirus outbreak to engage in price-gouging on its website.

The company said that so far, over 530,000 product offers had been removed from the website, over price-gouging concerns, as many of these products were coming up to make unsupported claims about their ability to fight coronavirus.

In a letter to the United States Senator Edward Markey, Amazon assured the senator that the company was not unaware of the situation and had already taken steps to clamp down such sellers.

“We have suspended thousands of accounts of sellers who have engaged in price gouging and we have begun working with several state attorneys general to prosecute the worst offenders,” Amazon said in the letter.

In addition, Amazon has also begun manual audits of products in its online stores to detect sellers that evade its automated systems, in its check for items that are “unfairly priced.”

Markey had written Amazon earlier in the week asking the company to stop the third-party sellers on their website from ramping up prices for items like hand sanitizers as people seek to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

According to him, the letter became necessary after he found that a pack of 24 2-ounce bottles Purell, which should cost $10, was selling for $400 on the company’s website, almost 40 times the actual price.

There had been a surge in panic buying following the daily increase in new infections and deaths arising from Coronavirus, with customers in a race to stock up on essential items.

In Nigeria, the price of items like hand sanitizer and face masks spiked up more than 400% after the first case of Coronavirus was discovered in the country.

So far, the global count of coronavirus infections has crossed 100,000, with over 3400 deaths across 90 countries. More countries have reported their first cases last week, an indicator that efforts made so far have not checked the spread of the virus.

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