A man with a huge amount of hand sanitizer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was recently barred from selling it online.
One day after news of the first coronavirus death in the United States was reported, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin began cleaning out their local store shelves of sanitizing products, according to the New York Times.
For the next three days, Noah drove across Tennessee to Kentucky and filled a U-Haul truck with hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes he bought from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother explained, because “the major metro areas were cleaned out.”
Matt remained in Chattanooga to receive shipments of sanitizer and wipes he ordered online, with the intention of selling them on his Amazon account.
“Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for,” the article read.
However, Amazon pulled the items from his account and thousands of other listings the next day and suspended some of the sellers for their actions.
The company also warned them that if they kept running up prices, they would lose their accounts entirely.
Thursday, an Amazon spokesperson told CBS News that there was “no place for price gouging” on its website and that the company was disappointed people were trying to raise prices during the global health crisis.
“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal. In addition to terminating these third party accounts, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors,” the spokesperson commented.
Wednesday, Amazon informed sellers of its decision to restrict who could sell health and sanitation products on its third-party Marketplace platform, according to the Verge.
The note read:
You are receiving this message because you are currently selling, or have previously sold, products such as disposable face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes/sprays, isopropyl alcohol or related products. We have implemented more stringent requirements to sell these products in our store and as a result, your offers have been removed. We are not accepting applications to sell these products at this time.
However, Matt does not see his actions as price gouging because while he charged $20 for two bottles of Purell whose retail prices were $1 each, he claimed that people forget his price includes labor, Amazon’s fees, and about $10 for shipping costs.
“I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he commented, referring to cities where the products are most in demand.
Now, Matt said because of all the backlash he is unsure about what he will do with his 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer.
“From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’” he concluded.