eBay Bans Sales of Face Masks, Hand Sanitizer to Stop Coronavirus Price Gouging
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EBay is now banning sales of surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in response to price gouging from sellers taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.
Merchants on the site have been offering Purell hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes for three or four times their normal prices. But on Thursday, eBay began removing items.
Affected items include sales for N95 and N100 mouth masks, as well as products that mention coronavirus, COVID-19, or 2019nCOV in their titles or descriptions. “These listings may violate applicable US laws or regulations, eBay policies, and exhibit unfair pricing behavior for our buyers,” the e-commerce provider said in a notice, which also cites a company rule that forbids sellers from profiting from “human tragedy, or suffering.”
The company made the announcement after Amazon also began combating price gouging amid more confirmed coronavirus cases. According to Reuters, Amazon took down more than 1 million products from sale in recent weeks over inflated prices and inaccurate claims the items could defend against the illness.
However, both companies are having trouble completely stamping out the problem. On eBay, you can still find Purell hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and N95 masks being sold at exorbitant prices, ranging from $35 to $100 per pack.
On Amazon, many of the same items are out of stock. However, third-party merchants on the site have been offering the items at a steep markup. For instance, one seller is offering a 3-pack of 1 fluid ounce Purell hand sanitizer for $59 when the original cost was at $7.99.
The price gouging prompted US Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) on Wednesday to call on Amazon to do more to address the problem. “No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering,” he wrote in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
In a statement to PCMag, Amazon said: "There is no place for price gouging on Amazon. We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers. We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies."