Amazon fights coronavirus price-gouging, suspends 3,900 accounts

SEATTLE -- Amazon officials said Monday, March 23 that more than 3,900 seller accounts were suspended for price-gouging during the coronavirus outbreak, a disclosure that came on the same day President Donald Trump issued an executive order aimed at curtailing the practice.

Officials with the e-commerce giant said the banned accounts were all active on its U.S. marketplace and were suspended for “violating our fair pricing policies.” More than 500,000 product listings were removed over price-related violations related to the outbreak.

“We are constantly monitoring our stores for unfair prices and listings that make false claims in regards to COVID-19,” Amazon said in a blog post. “We have dynamic, automated systems in place that locate and remove unfairly priced items.”

Amazon officials said that sellers found to have violated its policies are referred to law enforcement agencies for potential action. Company leaders added they were actively sharing information with federal and state officials to crack down on price-gouging and misleading product listings.

The update came with Americans around the country stocking up on critical supplies to contend with the outbreak. Online and traditional retailers have experienced shortages of many key items, including hand sanitizer, face masks and toilet paper.

“We strongly support legislative efforts to ensure unreasonably excessive price increases are illegal during this and other national crises,” the Amazon blog post added.

President Trump’s executive order was aimed to protect key medical supplies from price-gouging or hoarding that would limit their accessibility to those in need. Individuals who accumulate more items than is reasonably necessary for personal or commercial use could face prosecution.

Earlier in March, Amazon officials announced they would hire 100,000 workers to build out warehouse and delivery staff amid a surge in demand. In addition, the company delayed nonessential product shipments for the time being.