Amazon suppliers fined $75,000 for price gouging hand sanitisers amid pandemic

*3 Amazon third party sellers ordered to reimburse New Yorkers, having sold upwards of 1,000 units of hand sanitiser on Amazon’s marketplace ‘at prices that grossly exceeded the price at which the same or similar products were readily obtainable’ elsewhere

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

For apparent unfair exploitation of product consumers, three Amazon suppliers have been slammed with a fine from New York Attorney-General Letitia James for price gouging hand sanitisers in the early months of the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic.

Agency report says James’ office during the week disclosed that three third-party sellers ─ Mobile Rush, EMC Group, and Northwest-Lux ─ sold upwards of 1,000 units of hand sanitizer on Amazon’s marketplace “at prices that grossly exceeded the price at which the same or similar products were readily obtainable” elsewhere.

It was learnt during February and March 2020, Northwest-Lux was charging Amazon customers $79.99 to $129.99 for 2-liter bottles of Purell.

Mobile Rush was charging $19.99 to $29.99 for single, 8-ounce bottles of Germ-X hand sanitizer. EMC was charging consumers $35.98 to $52.99 for 8-packs of 1-ounce Purell bottles.

James said she had stopped the merchants from selling hand sanitiser at expensive rates.

She pledged to reimburse New Yorkers that bought the high-priced hand sanitiser.

Consequently, the affected sellers have been ordered to pay a fine of $52,000 to the state of New York.

Defrauded consumers will collectively be reimbursed almost $23,000.

New York Attorney-General James, in a statement said: “Price gouging on necessary consumer supplies during an unprecedented public health emergency is absolutely unconscionable and will not be tolerated.

“Instead of ensuring individuals could protect themselves from the coronavirus, these businesses operated with dirty hands by charging exorbitant prices on hand sanitizer and other cleansing products.

“My office will continue to clean up this unlawful practice by using all of the tools at our disposal to prevent price gouging during this pandemic.”

Consumers who purchased overpriced hand sanitizer products from any of the three sellers don’t need to do anything to receive restitution.

James said the companies are required to automatically issue partial refunds to the credit card, debit card, or bank account that consumers used to make their original purchases, report stated.

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