Coronavirus and price gouging in full swing on Amazon


I have some dear friends in Honk Kong and have learned there is a shortage of face masks as they are required by local law to wear them, not as a protection for themselves but in case a person is infected, the facemask protects the rest of the healthy ones from contracting the virus, as the wearer of the mask who might be infected and caughs or sneezes will not spread the virus as much since their mask will prevent the 95% of the virus from dispersing into air.
So I am about to buy 500 or so of those masks wanting to send it to them. Your normal retail for a surgical face mask pack of 50 is about 10 bucks, perhaps 20 with shipping.
Just search Amazon for surgical face mask. The real sellers are all sold out and what is left is prices that will quote $19.00 for pack of 50 masks With $150.00 shipping charge… Thousands of listings by the same seller on every imaginable brand with quite an interesting less than 50% feedback.

I am expecting prices to go up, what surprises me is that Amazon is letting one seller scam so many customers - I am sure Amazon’s algorithm is smart enough to catch this type of a scam.


Are you located in USA?


Yes I am in the Florida Keys

We were obliterated by Hurricane Irma so I am sort of sensitive to other disasters and try to help friends in need whenever I can. These folks in Hong Kong have to wear the mask if they want to go outside.


I lost 24 houses in Irma in SW FL so I understand. I will DM you my cell, give me a call and I will help you get it figured out.


Uh, no. Not on Amazon. Amazon suspended a bunch of sellers for price gouging on bottled water during and after a 2019 hurricane.

Don’t be that guy, dude.


Call some local safety equipment suppliers. The same type (or better) masks are commonly sold by them.


Actually no this is not capitalism, hence why it is actually prohibited at both the state (in every state) and federal level any time that a “State of Emergency” has been declared in any way shape or form.

You obviously have no experience with natural disasters, this would actually fall under Darwinism if it was allowed. Not capitalism.

For reference, I am against all forms of government aid and not in any way shape or form a fan of subsidizing anything whatsoever. However I 100% agree with this legal policy being enforced.

Moderator Edit (Chris_Mod_Amazon): Removed inappropriate political statement.


Lol. that’s some weird logic you got there.


Masks are sold out everywhere for weeks now, well before February. Can’t even get painting masks at home depot. The whole country is like this.

Most of the items listed on amazon are showing ridiculous shipping times too, so I would not even bother trying - lots of fake sellers just popping up trying to fraud some money.


probably coming from China.


DO not start this craziness again telling everyone it is no big deal!!

COVID-19 is a serious illness with a significant death rate. It is highly contagious. Currently more than 250 people a day are dying from it.

The OP wanted masks for people he knows in China. They are required to wear them. People are literally prisoners in their homes. It is not “a few sniffles”.


Another view point:

The best way to make sure supply meets demand is to let sellers charge higher prices.

College students learn in Economics 101 that a demand curve slopes downward to the right. As demand falls, price falls. As demand rises, price rises. If instead you don’t allow the price to rise — because of your concern about “price gouging” — the quantity offered for sale will fall.


Oy. That’s for long-term production to meet demand. We are talking price gouging here.


Hello Sellers,

Just a friendly reminder to keep further post on-topic and related to price gouging.

We appreciate your cooperation,

Chris H


Moderator Edit (Chris_Mod_Amazon): Removed off-topic reply.


Price gouging. No such thing. That aside, Amazon may wish to suspend all sales of face masks at this time for a variety of reasons I can think of.


There is indeed such a thing. During periods of a declared emergency there are various state laws barring the increase in price of critical goods and services.

The suspension of sellers that @AndThenSome mentioned was probably (although I do not absolutely know) because of sellers who were violating these laws using the Amazon platform. Amazon is not immune from these state laws and neither are sellers using the platform.


Not researched that, but I think there are a lot of reasons why Amazon (and other retailers) might wish to remove face masks for sale. In emergency circumstances rationing is the only way forward, as per say in London during the Blitz.


We’re talking about two different things. But currently 34 states have anti price-gouging statutes. No links allowed here, but it’s easy enough to find with google.


" Enforcement of anti - price gouging statutes can be difficult because of the exceptions often contained within the statutes and the lack of oversight …"