Amazon Sellers Fined for Price Gouging Amid Pandemic

Seattle, WA / USA - circa March 2020: Bin filled with small Purell hand sanitizer bottles, perfect for attaching to bags.
Colleen Michaels / Shutterstock.com

When the COVID-19 pandemic blew up in March, consumer interest in hand sanitizer soared and shelves across the country were wiped clean out of stock. Buyers turned desperately to Amazon where bad actors were quick to take advantage of their hygiene needs, gouging prices on Purell and other cheap hand sanitizers. Now payback has come. The state of New York has fined three Amazon sellers for price gouging

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that Yvette Chaya, aka Northwest-Lux; Mobile Rush Inc, aka Best_Deals_27; and EMC Group, Inc., aka Supreme Suppliers (EMC), must pay the state of New York more than $52,000 in penalties. The sellers also must reimburse consumers nearly $23,000 for the steeply overpriced hand sanitizer they sold to them.

“Price gouging on necessary consumer supplies during an unprecedented public health emergency is absolutely unconscionable and will not be tolerated,” James said in a press release. “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.”

Earlier this year, Amazon seller Chaya, who sold under the name Northwest-Lux, vended more than 1,100 units of Purell hand sanitizer, pricing 2-liter bottles for as much as $129.99, when the suggested retail price caps at $35. Mobile Rush/Best_Deals_27 sold more than 3,000 units of Germ-X and Purell hand sanitizer products for as much as $159.99, when the 8-ounce bottles retail for just $1 to $3. EMC/Supreme Suppliers sold more than 1,880 1-ounce units of hand sanitizer. They charged as much as $299.95 for 8-packs that have a max retail price of $22. 

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She’s a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, “Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray” received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

Amazon Sellers Fined for Price Gouging Amid Pandemic
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