U.S. asks Facebook, Walmart, and Amazon to stop over pricing amid pandemic crisis


WASHINGTON - A group of thirty two U.S. states have a message for the world’s leading online platforms: “You are not doing enough to stop unreasonable pricing in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.”

In a letter sent on Wednesday to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Facebook Inc (FB.O) and eBay Inc (EBAY.O) a cros-party group of U.S. legal counselors mainly defined the specific steps that they want for social media networks to take in order to end this habit.

Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro is the primary leader who guides the group effort along with general lawyers from the states of Vermont, New Mexico, and Connecticut.

The steps consist of aggravating unreasonable pricing protections prior to emergency proclamations in a country, being intuitive in setting policies and restrictions on sellers instead of playing catch up and creating a “fair pricing” page where customers can report activities.

“They should use their data and analytics tools to stop price spikes, not play whack-a-mole when they find something on their platform...We are seeing them handle this on a case-by-case basis, which is really not practical,” Shapiro said in an interview.

The businesses did not immediately answer to requests for comment.

Shapiro announced that his workplace has received approximately 2,900 tips of overpricing on social media platforms and old-fashioned shops in the past eight to nine days and issued 90 cease-and-desist orders to those sellers that were involved in the said transactions. He said if these orders fail to prevent dealers, his office can charge them up to $10,000 per violation.

The issue of overpricing on social media platforms has become a hot topic among law enforcement agencies, officials, and lawmakers as petrified customers look to stock up on important items during the outbreak.

It also reflects the severe pressure social media platforms are under to protect consumers while getting and collecting goods during a pandemic.

Prior this week, Amazon said it had removed 3,900 seller accounts involved in this activity. In the beginning of March, the company said it is working with legal general counselors to determine and prosecute third-party sellers.


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