A coalition of 34 attorneys general sent letters to Amazon, Facebook, Ebay, Walmart, and Craiglist telling them that, "as the American community faces an unprecedented health crisis," they need to do more to prevent price gouging on their platforms.
Citing examples of price gouging (such as a two liter bottle of Purell being sold for $250), the AGs said that "as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, it is especially important unscrupulous sellers do not take advantage of Americans by selling products at unconscionable prices."
The AGs called on the retailers to take the following steps to help prevent pricing gouging in emergency situations:
- Set policies and enforce restrictions on unconscionable price gouging during emergencies;
- Trigger price gouging protections independent of, or prior to an emergency declaration; and
- Create and maintain a "Fair Pricing" Page/Portal where consumers can report pricing gouging to the platforms directly.
CT Attorney General William Tong said, "Irresponsible and unethical sellers are using this crisis as an opportunity to profit. Major corporations like Amazon, Facebook, Ebay, Walmart and Craigslist can and must do more to protect consumers."
The attorneys general across the country recognize that they can't effectively battle price gouging seller-by-seller, but need the major online retail platforms to police their sellers as well. This letter should serve as a strong warning to retailers that, if they don't take aggressive measures to protect against price gouging by third party sellers, the AGs may try to take action against the platforms themselves.
"Rather than playing whack-a-mole to stop price gouging after it has already occurred, online retail platforms should prevent unconscionable price increases from occurring in the first place" -- Coalition of 34 Attorneys General