Amazon has pulled 530,000 products from its store and is working with state attorneys general to crack down on price gouging amid coronavirus fears
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- Amazon told lawmakers in a letter Friday that it's working with state AGs to track down third-party sellers taking advantage of customers concerned about the coronavirus.
- On Wednesday, Sen. Edward Markey called on the online retail giant to tackle price gouging on its site as prices soar for high-demand items like face masks and hand sanitizer.
- Amazon said it has taken down 530,000 products from its site over price gouging concerns and suspended more than 2,500 seller accounts in the US alone.
- The company has also removed millions of listings for making false claims about protecting against COVID-19.
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Amazon is working with state attorneys general to help them identify and prosecute third-party sellers for taking advantage of customers' fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the company announced Friday.
In a letter to U.S. Senator Edward Markey, Amazon said it has removed more than 530,000 products over price-gouging concerns and suspended 2,500 seller accounts in the US alone in addition to removing "millions" of products that make unsupported claims about their ability to fight coronavirus. The company also said it is helping several state attorneys general prosecute the worst offenders.
"There is no place for price gouging on Amazon, and we will not tolerate attempts by bad actors to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis," Amazon said in the letter.
As demand surged on the site for items like hand sanitizer and face masks, many third-party sellers began dramatically raising prices, a practice known as price gouging that is illegal in many states. Bottles of Purell that normally sell for around $10 were at one point listed for as high as $600.
Markey sent a letter to Amazon earlier this week calling on the company to stop third-party sellers from ramping up prices for such items as people seek to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Amazon said in its response that it is continuing to enforce its existing fair pricing policy, which prohibits excessively high prices for products or shipping, using both automated and manual review processes.
This isn't the first time Amazon has dealt with price gouging, nor is it the only online retailer trying to prevent sellers from exploiting consumers' fears over COVID-19. Online indie goods marketplace Etsy said Wednesday that it had pulled all listings related to the coronavirus from its site.
Chinese officials have also received complaints about price gouging and hoarding of highly sought after products, according to Reuters. And in Italy, which has been hit harder by the coronavirus outbreak than any other European country, authorities have opened an investigation into high prices for surgical masks, according to Reuters.
Reporting by Nandita Bose and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.