Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Amid Coronavirus, Amazon and eBay Under Scrutiny for Price Gouging in Italy

By Rich Duprey - Updated Mar 13, 2020 at 3:36PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The country has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Amazon.com (AMZN 3.09%) and eBay (EBAY 1.19%) are under investigation by Italian antitrust regulators after prices for products like hand sanitizer and disinfectant skyrocketed on their e-commerce sites as the coronavirus outbreak intensified.

Other than China, Italy has been the country most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 15,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths. The entire country was placed on quarantine and its citizens have been told to stay at home. All retailers except pharmacies and grocery stores were ordered to close.

Hands applying sanitizer

Image source: Getty Images.

A widespread development

Italy's regulators said they were opening probes into the two companies after prices for a number of products in high demand soared on their Italian e-commerce platforms amid the outbreak. They are also investigating allegations that some sellers on the sites had misleadingly described their products as being effective against the coronavirus.

Many retailers that operate third-party e-commerce marketplaces, including Walmart and Etsy, have struggled to combat price gouging as COVID-19 spread. Amazon and eBay both sought to control overcharging by either removing listings or banning listing of certain products altogether. Last month, Facebook banned ads for anything that promised to cure the coronavirus.

Consumer brands have also responded to reports of price gouging. The Consumer Brands Association, representing companies like Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive, wrote to the U.S. attorney general asking him to prevent retailers from taking advantage of consumers by raising retail prices.

eBay told Reuters it was ready to assist authorities to identify abuse while Amazon said it was still looking into the matter.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$112.95 (3.09%) $3.39
eBay Inc. Stock Quote
eBay Inc.
EBAY
$43.40 (1.19%) $0.51

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
316%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/05/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.