AG Nessel urging online retailers like Amazon, eBay and more to monitor price-gouging

Posted at 4:03 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 22:17:30-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General joined a coalition of attorneys general on Wednesday reminding major online retailers to monitor price-gouging amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nessel joined AGs from nearly 30 other states to warn Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Craigslist, Walmart and others.

“Online marketplaces are continuing to grow in popularity for consumers, and we are noticing an increase in price-gouging practices online just as we have at true brick-and-mortar shops,” Nessel said in a release. “We urge retailers with online marketplaces to monitor those venues for price-gouging and take commonsense measures to protect consumers from wrongfully inflated prices.”

The state has been adamant about issuing warnings and combating price-gouging on essential items in the state as complaints have gone up over the last two weeks.

In the letter, the coalition recommends several changes to protect consumers from price-gouging:

  • Set policies and enforce restrictions on 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, such as when your systems detect conditions like pending weather events or future possible health risks.
  • Implement a complaint portal for consumers to report potential price-gouging.

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