Amazon announced on Thursday that it has banned more than 1 million products in recent weeks that claim to cure or prevent coronavirus. Amazon also pulled tens of thousands of transactions from merchants it said were trying to drive up prices.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has faced scrutiny over pricing issues related to health products on its platform. Earlier this week, Italy launched an investigation into soaring prices of disinfectant gels and sanitary masks on the Internet.
A price-comparison service recently found that masks made by 3M, an American industrial giant, were selling for more than usual on Amazon.
When your correspondent also clicked on the buy option on amazon, one store on Thursday sold 10 N95 masks for $128. That is higher than the recent average selling price of $41.24, according to tracking site camelcamelcamel.com. The item was no longer available for sale later in the day.
Earlier this week, a third-party vendor introduced a new two-piece respirator for $24.99, above amazon’s recent average of $6.65, according to price-tracking sites.
An Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement that “Amazon does not allow price gouging,” citing the company’s policy that product information must be accurate and that amazon can cancel deals that undermine customer trust, including when prices are “significantly higher than those recently offered on amazon.com.”
However, Amazon declined to reveal the exact criteria by which an item was deemed unfairly priced. The company also said it had used a combination of automated and manual reviews to monitor price spikes and false claims.