What the Tech: Amazon price-gouging lawsuit

Local News

If you shopped at Amazon in the past two months, you may have paid too much for some essential items. Some products were as much as 300% higher than before the pandemic.

It was namely 3rd party sellers on Amazon. Retailers who list their products on Amazon but handle the fulfillment and often the shipping themselves. The prices in late March and early April were shockingly high.

The Amazon Prime price of a 3-pack of Huggies wipes has consistently been $14. When Amazon sold out, according to the price comparison website camelcamelcamel, 3rd party sellers had them listed for $40. Other examples were for hand sanitizers for $70-$80. Lysol wipes were also priced much higher than they were before the pandemic.

The most egregious price increase was for a Logitech web camera. It was $64 by Amazon, but when it sold out, 3rd party retailers listed used versions for as much as $345.

Now a Seattle law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon for price gouging. Hagens-Berman claims Amazon violated antitrust price-fixing laws and is responsible for anything sold on its website, even if its for sale by another retailer. The lawyers with the firm say an independent investigation found multiple incidents where prices of essential items were for sale at higher prices. In addition to prices being higher at Amazon.com, the firm claims Amazon requires 3rd party retailers to agree not to raise prices on the items on their own websites or physical stores, giving Amazon “unprecedented control over pricing beyond its own platform. The firm believes that it violates antitrust laws and harms consumers by artificially setting prices. 

To join that class action lawsuit, you must have purchased items at inflated prices and contact the law firm by phone or by filling out a form on its website hbsslaw.com. The attorney general’s office is currently investigating claims of price gouging at Amazon. On a blog post addressing the claims, Amazon says it has suspended the accounts of nearly 4,000 resellers for violating its fair-pricing policies.

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