Amazon

Amazon Pushes For National Price Gouging Law

India Restrictions Hinder Amazon, Flipkart

Amazon urged Congress on Wednesday (May 13) to enact legislation to prohibit price gouging during times of national emergency, Reuters reported.

Brian Huseman, a vice president of public policy at Amazon, said in a blog post that each of the nation’s states have different rules when it comes to price gouging.

“The disparate standards among states present a significant challenge for retailers working to assist law enforcement, protect consumers, and comply with the law,” Huseman wrote.

In March, 32 state attorneys general urged online giants Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist to rigorously monitor price gouging practices by third-party online sellers.

The letters contained examples of price gouging in March, including a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer being sold on Craigslist for $250; an eight-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer on Facebook Marketplace listed for $40; and packs of face masks on eBay being sold for as much $50. All of these were far and above a typical markup.

Also in March, some Amazon sellers charged $400 and up for a box of small bottles of Purell hand sanitizer, Reuters reported.

Last month, California shoppers filed a federal lawsuit against Amazon for alleged price gouging, according to eCommerceBytes.com.

The lawsuit alleged high-demand items, such as face masks and cold remedies, showed “flagrantly unlawful” price increases. The lawsuit also cited a 672 percent price increase for black beans to $24.50, up from $3.17.

In response to criticism, Huseman said Amazon removed more than a 500,000 items from stores, suspended nearly 4,000 selling accounts in the U.S. and provided information to federal prosecutors and state attorneys about sellers that Amazon suspects put high prices on products in high demand because of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Huseman made the case for a measure that would be implemented if a national emergency is declared. It would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the states, which would define gouging.

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