Amazon and eBay punished coronavirus price-gougers by making it harder for the rest of us to get hand sanitizer

The New York Times has an excellent, harrowing story about Matt and Noah Colvin of Tennessee — two of the many people who have tried to exploit the coronavirus panic for profit. The Colvin Brothers saw the chaos coming, and thought to buy up all of the hand sanitizer they could find. The plan, of course, was to control the supply in anticipation of a growing demand. This way, they could mark the price up and make a hefty profit margin. It's in the nature of our system: greed is smart, and should be rewarded.

But online retailers like Amazon (not usually known as the arbiter of a moral marketplace) and eBay got wind of these price-gouging strategies, and decided to do something about it:

The next day, Amazon pulled his items and thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company suspended some of the sellers behind the listings and warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.

In other words: they punished people for manipulating supply-and-demand in a time of great need, Amazon and eBay by cutting off the suppliers, so they can't sell the supplies they have, which in turn makes the demand grow. Read the rest

Amazon bans 1+ million coronavirus products for false claims, addresses price-gouging for masks and sanitizer

Amazon.com has banned the sale of over a million products in the last few weeks for inaccurate coronavirus health claims, the company told Reuters on Thursday. Read the rest

The first-ever mandatory California drug price report reveals Big Pharma's farcical price-gouging

In 2017, California passed a state law mandating disclosure of wholesale drug prices, something the Big Pharma companies fought tooth and nail. Now, the first of those disclosures has taken place, and it reveals spectacular levels of price-gouging from the pharmaceutical industry's greediest monopolists: an overall rise of 25.8% in the median drug price since 2017. Read the rest

Congressional shaming prompts notorious Pentagon price-gouger to refund $16.1m

Transdigm is a notorious military supplier/hedge fund that used acquisitions to attain a monopoly over many spare parts so they could charge exorbitant markups -- as high as 4,451%! -- on materials procured with tax dollars. Read the rest

CVS is making a generic epipen: $110/2 pens

The price of Epipens -- purchased annually by people with severe allergies and stocked in the first-aid cabinets of schools, businesses, and ambulances -- more than quintupled in a decade, thanks to the tactics of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (daughter of Senator Joe Manchin [D-WV]), who took home a 671% raise for her work, which raised this lifesaving technology's pricetag beyond the reach of many people, who turned to low-cost DIY alternatives. Read the rest

Novum Pharma's $240, semi-useless acne cream now costs $10,000/tube

The cost of Aloquin -- an acne cream based on iodoquinol and aloe, whose component ingredients cost virtually nothing -- was raised by 128% this week by manufacturer Novum Pharma, who now charge $9,561 for a 60g tube. Read the rest

DIY Epipen: the $30 Epipencil

Mylan, the company with a monopoly on FDA-improved epinephrine auto-injectors ("epipens") has quintupled the price of their life-saving technology since 2004, to $600/unit (and they have the be thrown out and replaced every year); for this, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (daughter of US senator Joe Manchin, who secured her initial job interview through political connections while he was Governor of West Virginia, moving her laterally from her gig as an aerobics instructor) received a 671% raise , bringing her compensation up to $18,931,068. Read the rest

20 minute Uber ride cost $1,114.71 on New Year's Eve

After Matt Lindsay celebrated New Year's Eve in Southwood Community Centre near Edmonton, he hailed an Uber to take him and his friends home. The driver who picked up Matt warned him that the "surge rate" was 8.9 times the regular fare. Lindsay accepted the surge and took the ride, which lasted 20 minutes.

From CBC:

Lindsay said he was using his previous trips with Uber as a base understanding of what the trip would cost.

"Generally Uber is very affordable. I can get from northside to downtown for under $20."

He has taken a couple of rides at a surge rate of two times the regular amount, which he said tallied $77.

"With the amount of people in the vehicle and a similar distance, I figured it would be a similar fare."

Lindsay said people are vulnerable after they've been drinking and surge rates can be confusing.

Lindsay said Uber had offered to reduce his fare by half.

Image: Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock.com Read the rest