Exploitative sellers have profited from the coronavirus crisis.
They’ve hiked prices of essential items because of perceived shortages.
And unfairly made money off of people struggling to find what they need.
It has to stop. The government must introduce emergency legislation to stop price gouging.
During the lockdown earlier this year, unscrupulous sellers hoarded essential items like baby formula, hand soap and cleaning products, and massively hiked their prices on online marketplaces.
They ripped you off to make an unjustifiable profit. And they could do it again.
Despite what we saw during the first lockdown, the government has so far refused to act.
We’re demanding the government bring in emergency legislation to stop sellers charging unjustifiably high prices for essential items during times of emergency – making price gouging illegal.
Baby formula, thermometers, toiletries, cleaning products – these are just some of the essential items we found sold at massively inflated prices on eBay and Amazon:
We found 800g of baby formula being sold for £60, thermometers being sold for £300 (normally £50), 250ml of hand soap for £100.
We found sterilising fluid for baby bottles being sold for more than 10 times the typical price.
We found Dettol bleach and cleaning sprays being sold for 10 – 20 times the typical price .
We found eBay listings featuring photos of essential items stacked up in supermarket trolleys and on shelves in homes – clear evidence of stockpiling, depriving others of essential goods and driving up prices on online marketplaces.
Our investigation has uncovered the dark side of the coronavirus response – some sellers exploiting perceived shortages to hike prices and others selfishly hoarding high demand items to turn a profit.
After publishing the results of our investigation, many people shared their price gouging stories. And some of them were shocking.
Dorothy told us that she paid £20 for a 500ml of hand sanitiser on Ebay – and it was the cheapest she could find on the site.
Vivien told a similar story, paying £28 for a 500ml of hand sanitiser – which left her feeling frustrated and ripped off.
Another person, who is recovering from surgery, found that the antibacterial wipes they need have shot up in price – reporting a small pack of wipes was being advertised for £12.99.
But no one should have to pay more than is reasonable for essential items during a crisis.
And that’s why we’re demanding the government do something about it.
Consumers need to be protected from unscrupulous sellers – but regulators need the tools to tackle price gouging.
When we took our investigation’s findings to Ebay and Amazon, they removed listings we’d highlighted as clear examples of price gouging.
But we believe much more needs to be done to tackle price gouging. It’s time for the government to step in.
That’s why we’re demanding the Government introduce emergency legislation to stop sellers charging unjustifiable prices for essential items during times of emergency.
We have already seen first hand what happens when the government fails to act.
No one should have to pay unjustifiable prices for essential items during a crisis – we need government legislation to put a stop to the problem.
Debbie’s charity provides 400 meals a day for elderly and vulnerable people in Suffolk. Here’s how price gouging has affected them: