Attorneys general call for online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging

  • Attorneys general call for online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging

Attorneys general call for online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging

"Ripping off consumers by jacking up prices in the middle of a public emergency is against the law and online resellers like Amazon must join in this fight", Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in his letter, signed by 32 other attorneys general.

Shapiro said his office has received approximately 2,900 tips of price gouging on online platforms and brick-and-mortar stores in the past eight to nine days and issued 90 cease-and-desist orders to sellers engaged in the activity.

Price gouging during a national crisis like the coronavirus pandemic is illegal under federal and state law. This continued even as the companies cracked down, removing or even banning listings of particular products.

On Monday, Amazon reiterated in a blog post that "it has zero tolerance for price gouging" and that it has already removed more than 500,000 listings because of coronavirus-based price gouging and suspended more than 3,900 USA selling accounts for violating fair pricing policies.

While Amazon does sell many of its own products on the site, "about half" of the items sold by the online retailer are sold by third parties who set their own prices.

Walmart and eBay both said they are actively monitoring pricing for high-demand items.

According to Florida's Attorney General, Ashley Moody, there have been at least 750 reported cases of price gouging since a state of emergency was enacted for the coronavirus.

"Online resellers have built advanced platforms and now it's time to take that talent and help us beat COVID-19 by ensuring ready access to essential goods at fair prices", said Attorney General Shapiro.

A group of 32 US states have a message for the nation's leading online platforms: You are not doing enough to stop price gouging amid the coronavirus crisis. Many states give some flexibility for prices to go up in response to shortages and hoarding behavior, typically by around 10% to 30% over prices in earlier months.