Attorneys General: Online marketplaces not exempt from price gouging laws

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, people stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon said Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, it now employs more than 500,000 people in the U.S., another sign of the online giant’s rapid growth. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) – Attorney General Doug Peterson joined a letter urging big, online retailers to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by sellers using their services.

Peterson joined 32 other Attorneys General, including the Iowa Attorney General on the letter geared towards Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Craigslist and Walmart.

The letter lists several examples of price gouging on marketplace platforms during the month of March.

On Craigslist, a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer was being sold for $250, on Facebook Marketplace, an eight ounce bottle was being sold for $40, and on eBay, packs of face masks were being sold for $40 and $50.

The Attorneys General recommend several changes to protect consumers from price gouging, including enhanced policies to detect and prevent excessive price gouging during emergencies.

The Attorneys General said in their letter they want consumers and businesses to know they endeavor to balance commerce and consumer protection in the marketplace.

“While we appreciate reports of the efforts made by platforms and online retailers to crack down on price gouging as the American community faces an unprecedented public health crisis, we are calling on you to do more at a time that requires national unity,” the Attorneys General said.

Attorney General Peterson said he encourages people to file complaints of price gouging occurring in Nebraska.

“We will investigate, and when possible, prosecute to the fullest extent,” Peterson said.


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