Coronavirus price gouging leads to removal of 3,900 accounts

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Amazon announced Monday that it has removed more than 3,900 selling accounts in its U.S. store for “violating our fair pricing policies.”

As coronavirus fears began to spread in early March, the company said it was investigating. On Monday, the retail giant also said in a blog post it has removed more than half a million items from its stores because of “coronavirus-based price gouging,” about half the amount it had previously said it removed in response to price gouging or misleading claims. 

“We began taking these enforcement actions promptly upon discovering this kind of misconduct, and we’ve been partnering directly with law enforcement agencies to combat price gougers and hold them accountable,” Amazon said in the post.

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Despite Amazon’s earlier calls to curb gouging, it appeared it persisted and not just from third-party sellers.

According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released March 11, nearly 1 in 6 of the products sold directly by Amazon had prices spike 50% higher than the 90-day average. 

The company reinforced its claim that it “has proactively reached out to every state attorney general in the country” to ensure bad actors were being held accountable. 

Although the post did not mention Amazon’s own pricing changes, it added its platform “strictly prohibits sellers from exploiting an emergency by charging excessively high prices on products and shipping” and that it is “issuing regular reminders to our sellers about these longstanding policies.”


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