COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today joined 32 other attorneys general in urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart and Craigslist to more rigorously fight price gouging by online sellers using their services.
“The internet shouldn’t be a safe haven for bad actors to hold necessities hostage,” Yost said. “These companies need to do more to police their marketplaces, especially during a global health crisis.”
A letter from the attorneys general sent to the companies lists several examples of price gouging on the marketplace platforms, all of which have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic: 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:
* Set policies and enforce restrictions on unconscionable price gouging during emergencies: Online retail platforms should prevent unconscionable price increases from occurring by creating and enforcing strong policies that prevent sellers from deviating in any significant way from the product’s price before an emergency. Such policies should examine historical seller prices and the price offered by other sellers of the same or similar products to identify and eliminate price gouging.
* Trigger price gouging protections prior to an emergency declaration when major weather events or possible health risks are expected.
* Implement a complaint portal for consumers to report price gouging.
In addition to Ohio, the letter was signed by attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
Ohioans who suspect unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.