|The news program, Democracy Now, featured a story on the site Amazon, September 15, 2020. It was reported by Alex Harman of Citizen.org that during the pandemic essential items on Amazon were marked up from 50–1000%.
It is not a Federal crime to price gouge, but there are laws against it in 35 states with various thresholds of what is considered price gouging. Price gouging is not solely attributed to 3rd party sellers on the Amazon platform. Many essential products sold directly by Amazon also had inflated prices.
- A pack of 50 disposable face masks increased by 1,000%;
- Dial liquid antibacterial hand soap increased by 470%;
- A pack of 100 disposable hand gloves increased by 336%;
- A pack of eight 1000-sheet toilet paper rolls increased by 528%;
- A pack of eight Brawny paper towels increased by 303%;
- A five-pound eight-pack of Pillsbury unbleached flour increased by 425%;
- A one-pound box of Domino powdered sugar increased by 520%; and
- A 6.5-ounce pack of Clabber Girl corn starch increased by 1,010%.
(Reported by Alex Harman, Citizen.org)
Amazon as a company did very well during the pandemic. It is the top e-retailer as of May 2020 Its CEO, Jeff Bezos has an estimated net worth of over $178 billion, up 57% from 2019. Now in the middle of a pandemic when people are stressed and panicked, the top online retailer is gouging consumers on much needed essential items. Mr. Bezos claims to be obsessed with the customer experience. How does price gouging fit into the customer experience? Most small to midsize businesses could never get away with this kind of behavior. Their customers would find somewhere else to make their purchases. Because of Amazon’s size and dominance, they can get away with abusing both their customers and sellers.
One of the lessons of the pandemic is cooperation. We also saw what a mistake it was to offshore our manufacturing to the point that we could not produce critical personal protective equipment in this country. We had put all our eggs into one basket. Amazon is an ever-growing basket.
There is a problem in business when so many “good” business people are on the spectrum of being psychopaths. People who do not believe in competition, only dominance. They must conquer, crush, and own it all until they become too big to fail. Is that the strategy? Grow to the size that you become too big to go out of business. If your business falters it can be bailed out by the taxpayers. The ones that you saw fit to price gouge during a pandemic.I do not think I am being overly critical of Amazon. I know people who work for the company. I know that they are grateful for the work and benefits the company provides them and their families. I am asking that Amazon be a good corporate citizen. After all, they are considered an entity entitled to free speech according to a Supreme Court ruling. Play fair. We cannot afford that winner take all mentality any longer. The price tag is too high.