Amazon pulls the plug on coronavirus price-gougers

Amazon pulls the plug on coronavirus price-gougers

Amazon said it has yanked 1 million products from its site for falsely claiming to cure or defend against the coronavirus.

The Seattle-based retail giant likewise said it has pulled “tens of thousands” listings for face masks whose sellers have been price-gouging amid the coronavirus panic.

Some merchants have been looking to take advantage of the crisis amid growing anxiety about the global epidemic, which has infected more than 80,000 people around the world and killed nearly 3,000, the Seattle-based retail giant confirmed Friday.

A 10-pack of N95 masks was recently retailing on Amazon for $128, according to Reuters, compared to its average price of close to $41. A two-pack of respirators, meanwhile, was selling at $25 compared to its normal price of just under $7.

“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” Amazon said in a statement, citing the company’s policy that product information must be accurate and that Amazon can take down offers that hurt customer trust, including when pricing “is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.”

Searches for items commonly associated with the virus — such as the masks — trigger a banner notification on Amazon linking to a CDC fact sheet about the virus so that users can “learn more about coronavirus protective measures.”

Amazon did not specify what the threshold is for an item to be considered unfairly priced. The company said it monitors for price spikes and false claims through a mix of automated and manual reviews of listings.

Amazon didn’t elaborate on what kinds of products it had pulled over false claims of being able to cure or defend against coronavirus. On Friday, a search for “coronavirus cure” on Amazon brought up a number of ebooks related to the topic, as well as dozens of supplements that claim to boost the immune system.

Shares of Amazon were down 3.3 percent Friday morning, at $1,824.65.

With Post wires

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