Lawsuit charges disinfectant prices rose 100%, face mask prices jumped 500% during the pandemic.
A lawsuit accuses Amazon of jacking up prices on critical products during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The class-action lawsuit, filed by the law firm Hagens Berman, accuses Amazon of “exploiting consumers in their most vulnerable hour” by hiking prices on medical items, cleaning products, canned food and other necessary supplies during the pandemic.
The lawsuit was expanded to potentially include all Amazon shoppers across the US who purchased such products.
According to the lawsuit, American consumers turned to Amazon and other online retailers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020, when stay-at-home orders and the threat of the disease made it difficult to purchase much-needed food and supplies.
“In this environment—consistent with the directions of government and public health officials—consumers have understandably turned to online purchasing, and Amazon in particular, to fulfill their essential needs,” the lawsuit says. “Without venturing into public and risking exposure to themselves and others, with just a few clicks Americans can purchase consumer goods from Amazon that will be delivered to their homes.”
The lawsuit alleges the e-commerce giant significantly hiked up prices of various goods. The cost of face masks, for example, jumped 500%, the lawsuit alleges, from $20 to $120. Disinfectant cost went up by 100%, according to the lawsuit. Other items whose costs drastically went up on Amazon were pain relievers, flour and cold remedies, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint, first filed in April 2020 in California’s Northern District Court, says some items went up by as much as 1,000%.
“Some of the unlawful increases were on sales of products supplied by third parties, sales which Amazon controls and reaps huge profits from,” according to the lawsuit.
Though there is no federal law explicitly making price-gouging illegal, many states have outlawed the practice during an emergency, like a natural disaster or pandemic.
“Amazon is the functional seller of these products and is responsible when price-gouged sales violate the law. But in addition, Amazon has inflated prices on its own inventory of products, which Amazon supplies and sells directly to consumers,” according to the complaint.
Amazon in May said Congress should pass a federal law against price gouging to make one clear standard and definition.
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