Amazon sellers to pay penalties in New York for price gouging hand sanitizers amid COVID-19 pandemic

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hand sanitizer price gouging Amazon sellers
Credits: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

The New York Attorney General’s Office stopped three Amazon sellers from price gouging hand sanitizers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ordered them to pay penalties and reimburse consumers.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James identified the Amazon sellers as Yvette Chaya d/b/a Northwest-Lux, Mobile Rush, Inc. d/b/a Best_Deals_27 (Mobile Rush), and EMC Group, Inc. d/b/a Supreme Suppliers (EMC).

These Amazon sellers will pay more than $52,000 in penalties to the state of New York and will reimburse nearly $23,000 to consumers who paid the extra-high price for hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

New York Attorney General will not tolerate price gouging

In a statement, Attorney General James said, “Price gouging on necessary consumer supplies during an unprecedented public health emergency is absolutely unconscionable and will not be tolerated.”

“Instead of ensuring individuals could protect themselves from the coronavirus, these businesses operated with dirty hands by charging exorbitant prices on hand sanitizer and other cleansing products. My office will continue to clean up this unlawful practice by using all of the tools at our disposal to prevent price gouging during this pandemic,’ she added.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) assisted the Attorney General’s Office in its investigation into businesses engaging in price gouging on its online marketplace.

The Attorney General’s Office already issued over 1,800 cease-and-desist orders to businesses that are allegedly violating New York’s price gouging law.

In August, Attorney General James sued Hillandale Farms for gouging the prices of more than four million cartons of eggs in March and April 2020.

The Attorney General’s Office is reminding businesses that it is aggressive in enforcing the state’s price gouging law.

Allegations against the three Amazon sellers

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Northwest-Lux sold approximately 1,168 units of PURELL hand sanitizer from March 1 to March 6, 2020.

It sold 2-liter bottles of the product for $79.99 to $129.99 and 2 packs of 20-ounce bottles on its Amazon storefront.  The regular price of a 2-liter bottle of PURELL hand sanitizer is around $20.87 to $35 while the 2-packs 20-ounce bottle is around $14.88 to $35.10.

Northwest-Lux agreed to pay $20,000 in penalties, fees, and costs to the state of New York, as well as $5,717.13 in restitution to consumers.

Consumers who overpaid PURELL hand sanitizers to Northwest-Lux will receive refunds ranging from $13.78 to $209.27. The amount of the refunds depends on the product purchased, the amount paid, and the quantity ordered.

Mobile Rush sold approximately 3,037 units of hand sanitizer on its Amazon storefront at unreasonably high prices from February 10 to March 11, 2020. The company sold six types of Germ-X and PURELL hand sanitizer products. Its price ranges from $19.99 to $159.99.

For example, it sold a single 8-0unce of Germ-X hand sanitizer for $19.99 to $29.99. The price of the product is normally between $1.00 and $3.00.

Mobile Rush agreed to pay$17,500 in penalties, fees, and costs to the state of New York, and an additional $9,113.00 in restitution to consumers who became victims of its price gouging.

Meanwhile, EMC sold approximately 1,884 units of hand sanitizer at extremely high prices on its Amazon storefront from February 10 to March 4, 2020. It sold seven types of PURELL hand sanitizer products, ranging in price from $22.45 to $299.95.

For example, consumers paid around $35.98 to $52.99 for 8-packs of PURELL 1-ounce bottles, which normally sell for $12 to $22.

The New York Attorney General’s Office ordered EMC to pay $15,000 in penalties, fees, and costs to the state of New York, and an additional $8,113.77 in restitution to consumers.

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