Two consumers are suing Amazon over alleged price gouging on the platform. According to a news report, a federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of two consumers – Mary McQueen of Oakland, and Victoria Ballinger of Selma, California. Both women say they relied on Amazon when the coronavirus pandemic began for goods they could not safely get in brick-and-mortar stores. However, they were confronted with inflated prices set by the online retailer.
The lawsuit alleges that the price-gouging especially in the time of a global pandemic is “unconscionable” and lists examples of products and their prices. For example, the complaint states, the price of face masks (currently in high demand) increased by 500% and the price of cold remedies shot up 674%. Amazon has vowed to fight price-gouging among third-party sellers on its platform and ended up removing more than one million products and banning sellers who violate pricing policies.
Exploiting a Public Health Crisis
California law prohibits businesses from manipulating prices in order to profit from any type of crisis situation – be it a natural disaster or a public health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic. Exploiting consumers when they are at their most vulnerable is not just against the law, but it is also unethical and immoral. It is a criminal offense in California under the state’s Unfair Competition Law.
Many people in the United States have been facing a scarcity in resources in addition to financial distress as a result of losing their jobs, being hit with furloughs or reduced work hours. This makes it even tougher for people who are trying to make ends meet and stay safe at the same time by limiting shopping trips and buying items online. Amazon’s sales have skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic began and its sales in some categories have soared above 1000%.
Class Action Lawsuits
Our class action attorneys are closely monitoring price gouging by websites and businesses during this time that is challenging for most Americans. If you have been the victim of price-gouging or unfair business practices, you may be able to file a class-action lawsuit not just to seek compensation for your losses and hardship, but also to hold unscrupulous businesses accountable.