Covid-19 (Coronavirus) price gouging banned by eBay & Amazon

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Marketplaces are warning sellers not to price gouge due to the appetite for certain medical products such as face masks and hand sanitiser due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) scare. They are also warning against making unproven health claims.

It’s no surprise that some merchants are jacking up their prices – demand and scarcity is the normal reason for prices to increase and indeed in some cases it will have happened automatically due to repricing solutions taking over. However others may have simply seen the demand and decided that it’s a time where some extra margin can be made and decided to maximise on the opportunity that presents itself.

What marketplaces may have missed however is that for at least some merchants it’s not they themselves that have hiked their prices but suppliers that have increased theirs as stock dwindles. One seller told us that the price for thermometers has risen and they can’t even source any face masks as demand is so high any stock that comes in is instantly snapped up.

“We are paying higher cost prices for thermometers at the moment as suppliers are out to make what profit they can during the outbreak.
And as for masks, we can’t even buy them before someone else beats us to the stock!”

– Marketplace Seller

If you are selling the type of products that could be associated with the Coronavirus, the best advice is to definitely avoid making false health claims but also where possible to keep your prices as reasonable as possible. If you can’t hold prices within a reasonably close range to your normal selling prices, it might be wiser to simply not to list them on marketplaces at the moment. Pop the stock at whatever price you wish to achieve on your own website and if demand really is as high as it appears and the stock is as scarce as has been reported then buyers will find you, especially if you make sure you stock is highlighted on major search engines and price comparison sites.

Coronovirus statements from marketplaces

eBay

“Considering the global developments associated with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and our dedication to delivering a safe and trusted marketplace, we would like to remind you of eBay’s Listing Policies:

  • Health claims and misuse of keywords: titles and item descriptions containing health claims and misusing terms such as “Coronavirus”, “Covid-19”, ‘Virus”, “epidemic” are prohibited.
  • Prices inflated over prevailing market value: listings that attempt to profit from tragedies and disasters (such as the Coronavirus outbreak) are prohibited.
  • Laws and Regulations: we recognise this is a fast changing situation. We advise sellers to always check local laws and regulations when listing. We will continue to monitor the situation globally and provide further updates as necessary.

 
eBay requests that all sellers who have live listings offering items such as face masks, hand sanitizer gel or wipes, etc., review their listings and make sure that they comply with eBay Listing policies.
 
Activity that doesn’t follow eBay Listing policies could result in a range of actions, such as eBay ending or cancelling your relevant listings, hiding or demoting all listings from search results, lowering your seller rating, enforcing buying or selling restrictions, or suspending your account.
 
To learn more about the policies and make sure your listings are compliant, we invite you to read our three most relevant policies on this topic: Prescription and over-the-counter drugs policy, Disaster and Tragedy policy, Search manipulation policy.
Best regards”

– The eBay team

Amazon

“You received this message since you might be offering for sale products related to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency, such as hand sanitisers and safety masks. We would like to remind you that all Selling Partners must follow our Fair Pricing Policy, and there is no place for price gouging on Amazon. A violation of this policy will result in the removal of your offer and/or of your selling privileges in order to protect customers on our store.
Yours sincerely”

– Amazon Services Team

29 Responses

  1. Sigh.
    The ethics of it aren’t even worth mentioning, just the potential financial consequences of exploiting this “opportunity”.
    maybe we should just all be wiped out.

  2. Yeah dust masks being sold as flu masks lol at inflated prices.
    People are going daft with this stuff, I do online groceries delivery part time for extra cash, and delivered more bleach, handwash, wipes today than actual food. One drop had 8 crates of the stuff.

  3. We have just signed the posties pda for a royal mail delivery
    Occurs to us that these nasties can live on a hard surface
    This thing could be circulated to most by pda

  4. Welcome to the consequences of media hysteria…. People are stock piling allsorts, face masks are running out even for medical staff, people are staying away from work, pulling kids from school.
    The country will fold even before the damn thing gets a hold.
    …. i love the fact that most people think that the face masks stop you getting it… WRONG!

  5. Hang on, whilst this is regarding our health, its also drawing a line very close to basic supply & demand?

    i.e Can eBay stop their merchants increasing their prices when they launch an eBay promo?

    Can eBay stop people increasing the prices of toys just days before Christmas?

    I like that they mention it – but either take immediate action on those or shut up.

  6. Surely the price anyone lists anything at is up to them?
    If you don’t want to pay it, you don’t have to?
    Basic supply and demand..
    Yes there will always be sellers that take advantage – but no one forces you to buy anything.
    Good job holidays aren’t sold on ebay – imagine that in the school holidays!

  7. on eBay you can use flu virus protection, NOT prevention in the title. With regards to price gouging, thats very hard to say.

    Imagine you bought them for £3.50 each. Postage is £2.50 each by RM packets. VAT and eBay fees/PYL would mean even if you sell them at £10 each, then you are only making roughly £1. Thats 10% profit.

    eBay should switch off PYL on these categories IMHO.

  8. I spoke to an air stewardess the other day – she said that when they run out of hand sanitiser, they use vodka (duty free I presume).

  9. Typical eBay want you to sell an item in demand for a little profit. I suppose its because their own charges keep going up for their services which going forward are less in demand than ever.

    But we are hunting high and low here through our emails and i seem to have lost the one that explains how i submit my claim.

    To claim back the eBay fees and paypal fees and also the royal mail postage costs as they have all agreed to waive them as this is a world crisis.

    Oh sorry my mistake they did not say that.

  10. @Gav….. exactly! And in the meantime decent sellers items are being hidden due to unfair metrics on eBay.

    “Sorry you can’t see this sellers items ,,,,,, but Mrs Miggins from Middlesbrough has claimed too many item not as described free returns this month from them affecting their metrics”.

    Hence buyers can’t find what they want and the perceived idea is that eBay is full of sponsored Chinese tat. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot……. sacrificing the integrity of your own platform for a short term money grab

  11. I have the corona virus i am really ill i need some hand sanitiser.
    There is none in any local shops and i cannot get out to them anyway as i am in self isolation.
    i have gone online to purchase some.
    No platform other than eBay has any.
    But the seller wants £20 for a bottle normally sold in a supermarket for 99p.

    I am gonna die cos eBay wont let me buy it even though i want to.
    I am so pleased they are stopping me being overcharged.

    what absolute poppycock ebay are crazy.

  12. its not done any good. sellers have just removed key words, it should be a block totally,
    hot water and quality soap and elbow grease is all thats needed

  13. Purell is been sold for ridiculous prices. Price gauging is everywhere now on Ebay. Capitalism as its worst.

  14. Its nonsense as their is no policing by eBay and you can’t report the item based on the above criteria. They simply do not list price gouging / profiteering from a disaster as an option to complain.
    Toothless ruling. I’d love to punch the theiving gits in the face for every pound they have hiked the price up.

  15. I have a niece whose parents cannot afford the treatment she needs for an ongoing health condition. The surgery is £102,000 going private from the same surgeon who on the NHS has a 14 month waiting list.

    Is that not price gouging.

  16. I reported about 20 obvious items a over the weekend, on ebay uk. I am watching every one of them and NONE have been taken down or amended.
    It seems ebay talk the talk, but they don’t seem to walk the walk…

  17. Exactly!
    Nothing’s been happening about any of those reports!
    I’ve reported over 300 listings without success!

    I’ve been riding up all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfecting sprays prices on eBay auction! I won over a 300 auction and I didn’t pay for a single one of them! Just left bad feedback and reported the sellers!!! I hope they will drown in their stock!

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