Amazon calls for federal price gouging law amid COVID-19 scams

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Amazon.

San Francisco:  Ecommerce giant Amazon on Wednesday asked for a comprehensive federal price gouging law to ensure that there are no gaps in protection for consumers especially in COVID-19 times, and help retailers like Amazon more effectively prevent bad actors and ensure fair prices.

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement that the company is seeing a nationwide surge in complaints about price gouging in the US.

“We believe any new legislative proposal should provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to go after scammers,” he said.

This would send a warning shot to price gougers and enabling honest sellers to operate without disruption.

“To that end, we have developed a recommended framework for what would make an effective federal price gouging bill.

“Amazon recommends that pricing prohibitions be defined as ‘unconscionable or grossly excessive or unconscionably excessive’ compared to a reasonable and relevant reference (e.g., the 90 days before an emergency is declared),” explained Huseman.

Put simply, said Amazon, it wants to avoid the $400 bottle of Purell for sale right after an emergency goes into effect.

Furthermore, any prohibitions should apply to all levels of the supply chain so that retailers and resellers are not forced to bear price gouging increases by manufacturers and suppliers, said the company.

Amazon already has removed well over half a million offers from its stores due to coronavirus-based price gouging.

“We’ve also suspended nearly 4,000 selling accounts in our U.S. store alone for violating our fair-pricing policies. In addition, Amazon has turned over to federal prosecutors and state attorneys general nationwide information about sellers we suspect have engaged in egregious price gouging of products related to the COVID-19 crisis,” informed the company.

Legislation should also help law enforcement target the source of the problem.

“Finally, legislation that ensures strong enforcement authority will send a clear and strong message that price gouging will not be tolerated and bad actors will be held accountable,” said Amazon.

The company on Wednesday extended the increased hourly pay through May 30.

“We are also extending double overtime pay in the U.S. and Canada. These extensions increase our total investment in pay during COVID-19 to nearly $800 million for our hourly employees and partners,” said the ecommerce giant.

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