eBay Price Gouging COVID

eBay issued a new note to sellers on Wednesday afternoon reminding them about the company’s Zero-Tolerance Policy on price gouging, specifically aimed at sellers that may try to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At eBay, we’re committed to ensuring consumer and employee safety and protection. We continue to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it develops and to take significant measures to block or quickly remove listings from our marketplace that make false health claims or offer products at inflated prices in violation of applicable laws.

As a reminder, we have a zero-tolerance policy on price gouging to ensure that buyers are able to find essential items at reasonable prices, especially during challenging and extraordinary times like those we face today.”

eBay Note to Sellers

Last year, eBay and other online marketplaces became havens for price gouging and dubious health products as much of the nation went on a lockdown with many stores closing, sending shoppers online trying to find everything from everyday basics to alleged COVID-19 remedies.

In late March, the situation was so out of control that eBay reported the company removed well over 500,000 listings in just a few weeks. While products making misleading health claims are always a problem, as the country’s manufacturing caught up from sanitizers to paper products, retail stores reopened, price gouging complaints disappeared from the national news. Which is the reason that makes this eBay note to sellers a bit strange.

Why Now?

Even with large spikes in COVID-19 infections since the late fall and conflicting news regarding the progress to control the COVID pandemic — with some experts suggesting that it may be over sooner than we think, while others believe new strains could create more problems in the short term — there has been no suggestion that consumers will face empty retail shelves again.

Maybe eBay received a lot of buyer complaints recently and felt compelled to release a reminder to ensure it would not get caught out again as it did last year. In December, the company settled a lawsuit alleging it allowed price gouging to run rampant on its platform during the initial months of the pandemic, and it would have made more sense to remind sellers then, not now.

Whatever the reason, and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious one, eBay is reminding its seller community about its Zero-Tolerance Policy and encouraging all eBay users to report items they believe violate its policy using the company’s price gouging reporting tool.

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