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Amazon jacked up the prices of toilet paper and more during COVID-19 panic

No surprises here.

amazon logo with warehouse in background
Image: KnowTechie

As COVID-19 took over the US in late February and early March, hoarding and product shortages followed. Soon after, prices for many products went up. Then, when states started issuing stay-at-home orders, many people turned to online shopping nd home delivery.

As a direct result, Amazon saw a dramatic increase in its revenue. However, the prices of many essential products increased as well. This didn’t go unnoticed, but Amazon took a firm stand blaming third-party sellers. At the same time, they portrayed themselves as innocent victims and said that they had no idea of what was happening on their website.

Fast forward a few months, and here we are mid-September. Amazon’s stocks have never been higher, its founder Jeff Bezos crowned the richest the man in the world, and their shareholders are counting their many blessings.

Now, the non-profit consumer advocacy organization, Public Citizens, has released a report regarding Amazon’s growth and, not surprisingly, the price gouging that was happening on the ecommerce site.

Recently, they made their report public, and they discovered some alarming news. Most importantly, they found out that Amazon added mark-ups as much as 1,000% for certain essential products during March and April. Those were products labeled as “sold by Amazon.”

For example, the same eight-pack of toilet paper that was sold offline and online on other e-commerce websites for $6.89, was sold for a whopping $36.39 at Amazon. A bottle of antibacterial soap was sold for $1.49 before the COVID-19 pandemic. In March and April, it was sold for $7. That’s an increase of 470%.

Third-party sellers were also taking advantage of the situation back then. Public Citizens discovered that they increased their prices by 941% for essentials such as flour and other food products.

The advocacy group demands that Amazon show price history for each product listing. Furthermore, they called on Amazon to stop allowing new product pages for existing products. That’s one of the many reforms they would like to see completed by Amazon.

Amazon tried to downplay the Public Citizen report claiming that they have only revealed “a small number of pricing errors.” Then they added how they’ve already removed more than 10,000 accounts for attempted price gouging.

Their press release didn’t include the fact that they were also accused of price gouging. Instead, it was all about how they condemn that, how they’ve dealt with third-party sellers that attempted price gouging, and how they were ready to support a federal law against price gouging.

What do you think? How do you feel about the price gouging that was occurring on Amazon’s website? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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