COLUMBUS, OH (WOWK) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 32 other attorneys general across the country are urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart and Craigslist to more rigorously fight price gouging by online sellers using their services.
“The internet shouldn’t be a safe haven for bad actors to hold necessities hostage,” Yost says. “These companies need to do more to police their marketplaces, especially during a global health crisis.”
The attorneys general sent a letter to the companies today listing several examples of price gouging on the marketplace platforms, all of which have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the letter on Craigslist, a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer was being sold for $250 on Craigslist, an eight-ounce bottle was being sold for $40 on Facebook Marketplace, and packs of face masks were being sold for $40 and $50 on eBay.
The attorneys general recommend several changes to protect consumers from price gouging including:
- Set policies and enforce restrictions on unconscionable price gouging during emergencies: Online retail platforms should prevent unconscionable price increases from occurring by creating and enforcing strong policies that prevent sellers from deviating in any significant way from the product’s price before an emergency. Such policies should examine historical seller prices and the price offered by other sellers of the same or similar products to identify and eliminate price gouging.
- Triggering price-gouging protections prior to an emergency declaration when major weather events or possible health risks are expected.
- Implementing a complaint portal for consumers to report price gouging.