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Price gouging persists on Amazon months into pandemic, U.S. PIRG finds

Posted at 2:04 PM, Sep 09, 2020

Price gouging continues to be a problem for Amazon shoppers, according to the U.S Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

A consumer watchdog says the price spikes are not based on normal supply and demand.

“People are really struggling right now, and the last thing that they need to worry about is going to the store or going online and finding the products that they really need to keep themselves safe at ridiculous prices,” said Grace Brombach, a consumer watchdog associate with U.S. PIRG.

U.S. PIRG found a wide range of products can cost two to 14 times more. For example, disinfecting wipes cost nearly $40 on amazon, compared to about $5 at other stores.

They suggest making sure you know the average price and shopping around.

As part of the HEROES Act, Congress passed price gouging legislation.

Some states have bills to further define emergency products to fight price spikes. Still, U.S. PIRG expects this problem to continue.

“We see situations like this come up in hurricanes and tornadoes, when people need to buy space heaters and electric lamps,” said Brombach. “And so, this will continue to be a problem going into the future if we don't address this issue now.”

Early on in the pandemic, Amazon removed thousands of listings and third party sellers from its website for suspected price gouging.

In August, Amazon said it was working to maintain its “fair pricing policy” while taking reasonable increases into account.