The first item to pop up was a 6-pack of 8 ounces Assured Hand Sanitizer (Amazon affiliate link) bottles.
Amazon Price Gouging Historical Pricing Data
I was stunned to see an initial price tag of $299.99, which then dropped to $109 (screenshot above) and then was suddenly out of stock.
It wasn't until this past week that people started to figure out that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was coming to America too. And at that point, the price shot up from the normal price point of under $15 in February and $10.75 in January.
See the historical price data below.
Yes, Amazon is Selling Dollar Tree Products
For those unaware, Assured is a Dollar Tree brand and these are always available (but probably sold out right now) for $1 each, or $6 for six of them, at any Dollar Tree in the country.
As stated above, the normal price Amazon sells them for is $10.75, and given what Amazon selling fees are, that's a reasonable price. You'd still make little profit from that.
But THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS, or $6.25 per ounce, is absurd.
Amazon is Basically eBay with a Fulfilment Network
Many people are unaware that Amazon is really no different than shopping on eBay these days, except for the fact that Amazon has a HUGE fulfillment network which warehouses and ships products stated: “Fulfilled by Amazon” (FBA). If you're buying something with “Prime”, it could be a product that Amazon carries or it could be a product that someone like me has purchased and sent into an Amazon warehouse.
Note that this offering is 3rd party fulfillment, not Fulfilled by Amazon, which is really the same as buying that product from eBay instead. In other words, anyone can sell “Fulfilled by Merchant”.
If Amazon actually had the product on hand in their warehouses, the merchant fulfilled items would be pushed to the back and possibly not seen at all.
Amazon Called Out on Price Gouging
And of course, the “reviews” are coming in. While I'd typically take comments like this with a grain of salt, it's warranted in this case. It is indeed despicable.
Amazon Cracking Down on Price Gouging?
Given how fast this item dropped in price and went “out of stock”, you do have to wonder if Amazon caught this and flagged it. But with comments being a few days old, that's hard to tell. One could only hope because it opens the door for price gouging lawsuits.
One of Many
I'm sure that this is just one of many such examples of price gouging running rampant on Amazon right now in relation to the Coronavirus fears.
While I wouldn't want the job of policing that, I hope they do indeed nip it in the bud. And they should even go as far as to temporarily “gating” (an Amazon term for blocking unapproved sellers in a particular category) the entire category until cooler heads prevail.
Amazon Price Gouging Screen Shot
Here's the full screenshot if you're interested in seeing the entire page.