As soon as the Coronavirus hit, douche bag brothers Matt and Noah Colvin Drove around Chattanooga, Tennessee, a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot and cleaned out their shelves of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes. Matt Colvin then sold 300 bottles of hand sanitizer for between $8 and $70 each.
As a result from the price gouging, Amazon pulled his items as well thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.
Now, while millions of people search for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Colvin has 17,700 bottles of sanitizer and nowhere to sell them.
“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”
Colvin is just one of thousands of asses who have hoarded hand sanitizer and respirator masks that many hospitals are now rationing.
“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal,” Amazon said in a statement. “In addition to terminating these third party accounts, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors.”
Colvin does not believe he was price gouging even tough he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each. Calvin says people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees and about $10 in shipping. (Alcohol-based sanitizer is pricey to ship because officials consider it a hazardous material.)
Chris Anderson, an Amazon seller in central Pennsylvania, said he and a friend had driven around Ohio, buying about 10,000 masks from stores. He used coupons to buy packs of 10 for around $15 each and resold them for $40 to $50. After Amazon’s cut and other costs, he estimates, he made a $25,000 profit.
Anderson is now holding 500 packs of antibacterial wipes after Amazon blocked him from selling them for $19 each, up from $16 weeks earlier. He bought the packs for $3 each.
Eric, a truck driver from Ohio who spoke on condition that his surname not be published because he feared Amazon would retaliate, said he had also collected about 10,000 masks at stores. He bought each 10-pack for about $20 and sold most for roughly $80 each, although some he priced at $125.
Now he has 1,000 more masks on order, but he’s not sure what to do with them. He said Amazon had been vague about what constituted price gouging, scaring away sellers who don’t want to risk losing their ability to sell on its site.
Amazon, eBay, Walmart and other online-commerce platforms are trying to stop their sellers from making excessive profits from a public health crisis. While the companies aimed to discourage people from hoarding such products and jacking up their prices, many sellers had already cleared out their local stores and started selling the goods online.