eBay and Amazon Marketplace are failing to crack down on coronavirus-profiteering, Which? claims 


eBay and Amazon Marketplace are failing to crack down on a spate of coronavirus-profiteering by sellers, Which? claims

  • The UK watchdog found many household products being sold at inflated prices
  • These included hand gel, bleach, infant formula, thermometers and tampons
  • In some cases, prices were as much as ten times more than they were usually 
  • However both eBay and Amazon claim to be taking tough action against gouging
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

eBay and Amazon Marketplace are failing to crack down on a spate of coronavirus-profiteering by sellers, Which? claims.

An investigation by the UK consumer watchdog found many everyday household products being offered at inflated prices — including hand gel, bleach and tampons.

In several cases, prices were around ten times what shoppers would normally expect to pay for the items — and in some instances the price inflation was even higher.

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eBay and Amazon Marketplace are failing to crack down on a spate of coronavirus-profiteering by sellers, Which? claims. Pictured, hand gel — one of the products being overpriced

Which? said that online marketplaces should be bringing in stricter controls to identify and prevent sellers charging unjustifiable high prices for essentials — and that these policies must be communicated clearly and directly with sellers.

However, both eBay and Amazon said that they are taking tough action against ‘price gouging’ — when a seller dramatically inflates the price of goods — including preventing bad sellers from using accounts.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently warned that traders should not be exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to take advantage of people through price gouging and threatened to take strong action if the problem persisted. 

‘These companies must make good on their pledges to stamp out coronavirus profiteering,’ said Which? head of consumer protection Sue Davies.

‘If they fall short, the CMA must be ready to take strong enforcement action.’

‘The Government should consider how it will work with the retail sector as a whole to keep the price of essential items reasonable as the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak continues.’

An investigation by the UK consumer watchdog found many household products being offered at inflated prices on eBay and Amazon ¿ including hand gel, bleach and tampons

An investigation by the UK consumer watchdog found many household products being offered at inflated prices on eBay and Amazon — including hand gel, bleach and tampons

‘All the items flagged by Which? have been removed and enforcement action has been taken against the sellers,’ eBay said in a statement.

The website added that it has already announced additional measures to tackle coronavirus-related price gouging.

‘This is a continuation of the aggressive action against price gouging, which has included suspending hundreds of accounts, removing hundreds of thousands of listings, and suspending scores of bad seller accounts.’

‘Specifically, in the face masks and hand sanitiser categories, only pre-approved white-listed vendors will be allowed to sell these items.

‘We are continually monitoring the situation and will consider widening the ban to include other categories if appropriate.’

'There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,' a spokesperson for the online retail firm said. 'We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis'

‘There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,’ a spokesperson for the online retail firm said. ‘We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis’

‘There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,’ a spokesperson for the online retail firm said.

‘We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis.

‘In line with our longstanding policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers.’

‘In addition to removing these offers, we are terminating accounts.’

WHAT DID WHICH? FIND? 

Which? searched for essential household items on eBay and Amazon Marketplace between March 16 and 19.

Examples of price-gouged items it found included:

A digital thermometer selling for nearly £300 on eBay and and almost £150 on Amazon when the typical price is around £40.

Disinfectant which typically costs around £3 was being sold for almost £30 on eBay and nearly £10 on Amazon.

Bottles of antibacterial hand lotion which often retail for around £1 were priced at more than £10 each on Amazon and eBay.

A bottle of antibacterial hand gel normally costing around £1.50 was being sold for more than £100 on eBay by multiple sellers.

Bottles of bleach were listed for around £7 each on eBay and Amazon. Buyers would normally pay around £1 per bottle in the shops.

Boxes of tampons priced at around £3 at Boots were being sold for around double this amount on eBay.

Packets of infant formula which usually cost around £10 were being priced at about £40 on eBay.

 

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