Amazon warns face-mask sellers about price gouging amid coronavirus fears

Amazon warns face-mask sellers about price gouging amid coronavirus fears
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Amazon has reportedly sent warnings to sellers of medical face masks on its platform who it says are not in compliance with its policies, warning that price gouging will result in their removal from the marketplace.

Emails obtained by Wired show that the company has warned sellers against gouging prices on the items amid the outbreak of a novel form of coronavirus from China, which has led to a global spike in purchases of face masks.

The company has also deleted some listings of the items that were sharply raised in price amid the outbreak, a company consultant told Wired. Amazon representatives did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

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“If you price gouge — charge too much for these masks, they sometimes take you down,” said the consultant, Ed Rosenberg.

"This is a hard one for Amazon, because they do not want its customers to be taken advantage of,” he added. “But there is also supply and demand, and sellers should be able to charge more if they pay more and demand is high.”

More than 2,500 people have died, mostly in China, amid the coronavirus outbreak, which is thought to have originated in the country's Wuhan province. Tens of thousands of people across the country have reported or confirmed cases of the disease.

Health officials in several other countries including the U.S. have implemented screenings of travelers arriving from China, though U.S. health officials have not recommended face masks for the purpose of preventing contraction of the disease.