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Amazon Sold Items at Inflated Prices During Pandemic

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Amazon have reportedly sold items at absurdly high increased prices by up to 1,000% during the course of the global pandemic. A report from the Citizen - a report of which is so extensive with graphs, charts, and the works - has conducted and found key evidence that Amazon has raised the prices of essential products ala price gouging to raise an insane profit during the pandemic, and would actually be considered illegal in many states.

 

Quote
  • Amazon set prices of products during the COVID-19 pandemic to levels that would be considered violations of price gouging laws in many states.
  • Amazon has misled the public, law enforcement, and policymakers about price increases during the pandemic.
  • Numerous examples of price increases were found on essential products on Amazon.com, some as much as 1,000% over the expected price.
  • Amazon publicly blamed so-called third-party sellers for price increases while continuing to allow third-party sellers to increase their prices.
  • The facts in this report demonstrate the need for a federal price gouging law, and for Amazon to reform pricing and product listing practices.

 

In the report, it was found that mid-2020, prices on items had tripled-to-quadrupled in price in order to raise an insane amount of profit on Amazon's end, which is ironic as Amazon had claimed to stamp down on price gouging earlier into the pandemic.

Citizen's report ironically enough uncovers Amazon's shady dealings with these particular products and puts a foot down on Amazon's deceit and deception towards its own policies.

 

It is also noted in the same report that Amazon was alerted to price gouging on bottled water during Hurricane Irma, and took no actions to address the gouging problem. This 2020 edition of Amazon not following its own policies, or indeed lacking a policy to follow in the first place is likely not the last.

 

Citizen has also detailed items that were sold on Amazon between the months of February and August 2020, with Amazon's price, the price they were expected to be sold for, and of course, a percentage to put these numbers into perspective.

 

Quote
Product Amazon Price Expected Price Date Range % Increase
Disposable Face Masks, package of 50 $39.99 ~$4.00 April 1 – Aug. 16 1000%
Hand Sanitizer $35.38 ~$24.00 May 10 – Aug. 16 48%
Disinfectant Spray $13.04 $6.99 Aug. 1, 2019 – Aug. 16, 2020 87%
Antibacterial Soap $7.00 $1.49 May 19 – Aug. 16, 2020 470%
Nitrile Disposable Gloves $29.95 $8.91 Aug. 1, 2019 – Aug. 2020 336%
Toilet Paper $36.39 $6.89 May 26 – Aug. 16, 2020 528%
Paper Towels $46.94 $15.49 May 1 – Aug. 16, 2020 303%
Flour $80.35 $18.88 May 1 – Aug. 16, 2020 425%
Sugar $5.56 $1.07 May 1 – Aug. 16, 2020 520%
Corn Starch $8.99 $0.89 Feb. 1 – Aug. 16, 2020 1010%

 

The disposable face masks are the most heinous crime of the bunch, with how obvious face masks are for the current economy, it's no secret Amazon with its shady dealings would go out of their way to make sure they maximise their profit off the politically-fueled piece of facewear.

 

Quote

It is difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons of the prices of disposable face masks because those sold during the pandemic tend to be from new sources. Nonetheless, roughly equivalent products are priced far higher than they were before the onset of the pandemic. In addition, the sourcing for the products appears to have shifted to unknown imported brands of questionable quality and reliability. The example below was first made available on Amazon in April and has been priced as high as $39.99. Prices for this type of package of 50 masks generally were around $4 before the pandemic.[44] The graph below shows the Amazon price over time and indicates that it was sold by Amazon, not a third-party seller.[45] Many of the reviews for this product indicate that the straps fall off and that the packaging is open or does not contain the specified amount of masks.[46]

 

facemaskprice.png

 

Hand sanitizer is just as criminal, with the price being ramped up particularly in August, as the graph below shows:

 

germxhand.png

 

Amazon were also reported that third-party sellers were price-gouging as well because of the financial relationship between Amazon and them. The reason for this is because 25% of Amazon's entire retail revenue comes from third-party sellers, once again, this explains why Amazon would want to take the route that maximises old Jeff's pockets.

 

Quote

In addition to Amazon’s direct price gouging, third-party sellers continue to engage in price gouging behavior on the site. Because of its financial relationship with third-party sellers, Amazon also benefited from these increased prices across its platform.

 

In 2019, Amazon reported that the company’s annual share of revenue generated by third-party sellers was $42.75 billion.[72] The latest Amazon earnings report from the second quarter of 2020 showed an increase of 53% to $18.2 billion for just that quarter.[73] This was not gross revenue. This is just the cut that Amazon kept in fees that average around 15%.[74] Some recent estimates have put that percentage much higher as a result of the advertising fees Amazon charges sellers outside of the list and fulfilment fees.[75] This is compared to the annual gross revenue for the Amazon retail operation of $122.99 billion, which is before cost of goods sold and other expenses. Thus, while third-party sales account for about 25% of the revenue from online retail, the costs associated with third-party sales are not comparable with Amazon retail costs. Put simply, third-party sellers are a very important, and growing, part of Amazon’s revenue.

 

The article was very long and exhaustive, and I take no credit in any of the data collected, that is all from the Citizen, and I highly recommend that you give the whole report a read as it is insightful to the heinous business that is Amazon at this time.

There are a lot more data regarding the price comparisons on their official source that I have linked below.

 

It is insidious that Amazon, one of the world leaders in capitalism, backed by the richest man in the world, would fall as low as to price gouge on their own website, and allow third-party sellers to do the same. It is heinous and sickening as I have been a customer for ages and haven't really thought twice about it.

The report is really eye-opening, especially when read in full, about the entire scheme of the whole operation and the price gouging that Amazon and their partners have done in the past year.

 

Source: Citizen


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Are these products sold by amazon or on amazon?


I am far from an expert in this so please correct me if I’m wrong.

Quote or tag me so I can see your response

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
3 minutes ago, zeusthemoose said:

Are these products sold by amazon or on amazon?

On Amazon, either by themselves or by third-party sellers.

 

Quote

The purpose of this report is to examine the ongoing price gouging on Amazon.com, both by third-party sellers as well as by Amazon itself.

Quote

This report details 15 essential products that have been sold by Amazon during that COVID-19 pandemic with markups over the recent price on Amazon.com or other national retailers ranging from 76% to more than 1,000%, and 10 products sold on Amazon by third-party sellers during the same period with markups ranging from 225% to 941%.

 


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Just now, sowon said:

On Amazon, either by themselves or by third-party sellers.

 

Ah sorry, missed that when I skimmed it. In that case, nothing that can be done about third party sellers. But if im not mistaken, it is illegal for companies to inflate prices in the US during a state of emergency (or something like that). I could see them getting some fines but I honestly doubt it, it is common knowledge that pricing was insane and nothing has happened yet so it unlikely ever will.


I am far from an expert in this so please correct me if I’m wrong.

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10 minutes ago, zeusthemoose said:

Are these products sold by amazon or on amazon?

When I was searching for face masks at the start of the pandemic, almost all were from third party sellers. Couldn't find a single listing that sold and shipped by Amazon. And of course, at the time the prices were also ludicrous. What I will say is it's one thing to price gauge. It's another to completely scam people out of these necessities while gauging them at the same time. Which was a pandemic in of itself over at eBay. eBay added to the fire by pulling listings for stuff like hand sanitizer and face masks without issuing refunds or giving consumers means to open a case if the item never arrived. When eBay pulled the listings, it essentially removed all traces even from customers' order history. 


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1 minute ago, zeusthemoose said:

Are these products sold by amazon or on amazon?

Mostly on Amazon but also a bit of it sold by Amazon. So it's third party selling that use Amazon to sell their products that have increased the price.

I don't see how this is Amazon's problem really. Seems like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Should Amazon restrict what third party sellers can sell their products for? They would get slapped for price fixing or monopolistic practices. Don't limit the prices third party sellers can set? Then they apparently get slapped for allowing price gouging.

 

Also, aren't people on this forum always championing for as little government intervention with the free market as possible? This is supply and demand in action.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, LAwLz said:

Also, aren't people on this forum always championing for as little government intervention with the free market as possible? This is supply and demand in action.

Didn't you know people on this forum can't seem to make their minds? They flip flop more than politicians do at times. Especially when it comes to picking favourites. 


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I doubt anyone here is really into gas masks, but last time I checked, Israeli gas masks were like $200~

 

Normally Israeli Gas masks should be about $26 as they're basic & not special.


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25 minutes ago, sowon said:

On Amazon, either by themselves or by third-party sellers.

 

Question: to accuse Amazon, themselves, of price gouging, wouldn't you have to know how much Amazon paid for the items in question? From what I read, the site that compiled this report did not have that information. They simply looked at the prices Amazon was charging.

 

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Price gouging is a crime here in Florida on anything hurricane related. That is probably why I did not see it.


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1 hour ago, sowon said:

On Amazon, either by themselves or by third-party sellers.

 

 

Lol. That wasn’t the question.  There is amazon and there is “fulfilled by amazon” which are not even remotely the same.  “On” amazon is not what he was asking. Of course it was “on” amazon.   He’s askin if it was amazon themselves OR third party resellers


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1. This is from third party sellers, for which Amazon doesn't have complete control over.

2. Amazon was actually documented as having removed egregious gougers from being able to sell on Amazon.

3. Suppliers raised prices as their stocks dwindled at the start of the pandemic, which trickled to sellers and then consumers, so while things got more expensive, not all of them are the result of gouging. It's wholly fallacious to attribute increased costs as gouging.

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Wait, who the F inflated Corn Starch... and why?

 

In any case, the Canadian gov put pressure on most online stores and classified sites, to prevent resellers from profiteering off the pandemic, was that not the case in the US ? Prices were up for a bit, but went down relatively quick up here (though some are still relatively high, like alcohol, mask and other things like that, it's no where near the prices in the US at least).


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Honestly, resellers on Amazon should be the least of our worries when it comes to price gauging. We should be looking out for small independent sellers on classifieds, Facebook marketplace, and even mom and pop shops. That's where price gauging happens the most.

 

https://globalnews.ca/video/6766400/man-busted-for-selling-masks-in-richmond/


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This is basic supply-and-demand microeconomics.  Not a big deal, although I guess it's noteworthy in history books and stuff.  If companies can sell things at higher prices and profit, they will.


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4 hours ago, zeusthemoose said:

Ah sorry, missed that when I skimmed it. In that case, nothing that can be done about third party sellers. But if im not mistaken, it is illegal for companies to inflate prices in the US during a state of emergency (or something like that). I could see them getting some fines but I honestly doubt it, it is common knowledge that pricing was insane and nothing has happened yet so it unlikely ever will.

So they weren't kidding when they said: "Law is meant to be broken"

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Singling out Amazon? EVERYONE was 'price gouging' essential products EVERYWHERE during the pandemic.

 

If Amazon listed their own goods without heightened prices, then scalpers would have wiped them out and re-sold at higher price, either as third party sellers or elsewhere.

 

Please stop and think of what is inevitable in reality, before you try to pin the blame on a single party.


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OP I assume you just hate Amazon?

 

All this was done by 3rd party sellers and it has nothing to do with Amazon whatsoever. This entire thread is a waste of time. Even your title is clickbait and completely wrong. Amazon did NOT sell the items. Third party sellers on Amazon did. This thread's title is literally incorrect. You can hate Amazon all you like, I could not possibly care less but don't try to mislead and spread misinformation.

And please do not come back to tell me that "some" were by Amazon, nobody cares about 1% of sales. The vast majority were resellers and if you were actually alive at that time you would know. Amazon did not even have stock to be able to do that because they sold out instantly.

Amazon does not have a duty to decide pricing for their resllers and I have this weird strange feeling that if you were to sell on any platform you would not like to be told what to sell things at. As everyone here has already outlined this is supply and demand and despite this Amazon took action and removed a lot of sellers who tried to take advantage of the situation.

 

Just delete this thread honestly. It's pathetic that you spent all this time to type this up and post the graphs trying so hard to direct blame to Amazon when this is all just about a bunch of pathetic 1 man businesses who got lucky on bulking up on stock before it went down.

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Wait... Its just the price history of a particular brand... 

 

Is there no other brands to choose from?


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Going after people for price gouging is a slippery slope.

 

At what point do you consider it breaking the law vs just good business.

 

Software has insane profit margins attached to it and yet we don’t consider $60 video games price gouging or $1000+ software as price gouging.


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4 hours ago, AluminiumTech said:

Going after people for price gouging is a slippery slope.

 

At what point do you consider it breaking the law vs just good business.

 

Software has insane profit margins attached to it and yet we don’t consider $60 video games price gouging or $1000+ software as price gouging.

I believe there is some sort of standardized metric.  Price gouging is a form of profiteering which has been illegal in the US since the civil war.  Part of it I think is margin compared to actual cost, and previous price compared to increased price. 
 

Whether amazon met those metrics or not I do not know.  There are ways to avoid falling into the definition.  


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I mean there was a shortage of almost all of these products.. what do you expect?

Couldn't even find toilet paper on the shelves locally for a full month...


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