A consumer watch group has warned that sellers on the online platforms eBay and Amazon Marketplace are profiteering in the current time of the cornavirus pandemic and the two online market places are doing little to stop them.
The group conducted an investigation and found that “extortionate” prices were being charged on the platforms for a wide range of products.
The consumer group – Which?, uncovered that sellers were consistently overpricing household items which included cleaning products, hand sanitiser, thermometers, baby formula and tampons. These are items that have been in high demand since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak but the supply of these products is constrained in supermarkets and pharmacies.
A coronavirus taskforce to crackdown on companies that cash in during the outbreak has been created by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) of the United Kingdom. The task force has already got in touch with traders and online trading platforms about the issue of over pricing of some of the products.
But still third-party sellers are still “brazenly” ripping-off consumers, found the snapshot investigation by Which?. The consumer group said that such sellers are taking advantage of the current situation and were listing overpriced items that have got scarce or are completely out of stock in local shops.
A series of bids for a bundle of three bottles of Dettol spray and three packets of antibacterial wipes touched £210 on eBay’s auction site, the consumer group found. It also found multiple sellers on eBay were selling a 50ml bottle of Carex antibacterial hand gel for more than £100 while the usual cost of the product is about £1.50.
“Online marketplaces have taken some action against coronavirus price gouging, but our investigation shows unscrupulous sellers are still cashing in on people’s fears by selling essential items at extortionate prices on eBay and Amazon. These companies must make good on their pledges to stamp out coronavirus profiteering, and the CMA must be ready to take strong enforcement action,” said Sue Davies, the head of consumer protection at Which?.
“All the items flagged by Which? have been removed and enforcement action has been taken against the sellers. We announced on Friday additional measures to tackle coronavirus-related price gouging. This is a continuation of aggressive action … which has included suspending hundreds of accounts, removing hundreds of thousands of listings, and suspending scores of bad seller accounts,” said an eBay spokesperson. An eBay spokesperson said:
“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. In addition to removing these offers, we are terminating accounts,” Amazon said.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)