San Francisco, Sep 12 : Amazon sold several items including essentials such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser at inflated rate during the Covid-19 pandemic, said a report by US-based consumer rights group Public Citizen.
Amazon set prices of products during the pandemic to levels that would be considered violations of price gouging laws in many states of the country, showed the findings of the report released this week.
Numerous examples of price increases were found on essential products sold directly by Amazon, it added.
While the e-commerce giant publicly blamed so-called third-party sellers for price increases, it continued to allow them to increase their prices, the research showed.
“Amazon claimed that it took several steps to curb price gouging,” said the report.
“But we have uncovered a pattern of significant price increases on essential products sold directly by Amazon, as well as price gouging by third-party sellers,” it added.
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 per cent to more than 1,000 per cent.
It also details 10 products sold on Amazon by third-party sellers during the same period with markups ranging from 225 per cent to 941 per cent.
It showed that prices of many items increased manifold between May and August.
Responding to the report, Amazon said that its service has “no place for price gouging,” The Verge reported on Friday.
“Our systems are designed to offers customers the best available online price and if we see an error, we work quickly to fix it,” a spokesperson of the company was quoted as saying.
The e-commerce giant’s leadership had earlier also made clear that they do not tolerate price gouging and that they will stop third-party sellers from taking advantage of the pandemic.
“However, it is clear that not only are third-party sellers engaged in price gouging, but Amazon itself is selling essential products at significant price increases, and in many cases at a much higher price than other national retailers,” the report by Public Citizen concluded.