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State AGs urge online retailers to crack down on coronavirus price gouging


A bipartisan group of state attorneys general on Wednesday sent letters to major retailers urging them crack down on price gouging on their online platforms amid the spread of coronavirus

The 34 AGs recommended for Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to build tools to detect price spikes and create landing pages for people to report cases of price gouging.

“Major online businesses must ensure consumers are charged fair prices when they shop on their platforms,” Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement on the letters. “We appreciate the efforts these companies are making during this difficult time and are hopeful that they will continue work with State Attorneys General to do more to root out price gouging online and protect consumers.”

The letter cited several reported cases of price gouging related to coronavirus, including hand sanitizer and face masks prices spiking at least 50 percent and an eight ounce bottle of Purell selling for 40 dollars on Facebook marketplace.

The attorneys general said their offices have been receiving reports of price gouging daily.

While many retailers have taken steps to address the issue, they haven’t done enough, the letter stated. Other government entities have also stepped up pressure on price gouging.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe pandemic is bad, we need the capability to measure just how bad Florida governor wants federal disaster area declaration Amash calls stimulus package ‘a raw deal’ for ‘those who need the most help’ MORE on Monday signed an executive order aimed at preventing price gouging and hoarding of critical medical supplies. It would allow the Department of Justice to apply criminal penalties if supplies deemed critical are hoarded, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrImmigration advocates call on Barr to halt migrant prosecutions amid coronavirus outbreak Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Chinese official’s virus disinformation doesn’t violate rules | Hackers target WHO | Senators urge agencies to stop coronavirus robocalls House Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak MORE explained.

A group of Democratic senators introduced a bill Wednesday prohibiting selling, or offering to sell, essential items at excessive — defined as 20 percent above normal — prices during crises.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put incredible stress on consumers and we must make sure that they can afford essential goods and services,” Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Biden says he has ‘short list’ of potential women for VP pick The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Airbnb – Trump, Dems close in on deal MORE (D-Minn.) said in a statement. “All consumers should have access to the products and services they need to protect their families at fair, uninflated prices.”



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