Amazon sellers blocked from price gouging hand sanitizer during COVID-19, recoup funds available for New Yorkers

Regional News

This photo illustration shows a bottle of hand sanitizer on March 5, 2020 in Washington,DC. – Amazon pledged on March 5, 2020 to take steps to fight price gouging after a US senator complained of “unjustifiably high prices” on hand sanitizers and surgical masks to protect against coronavirus infections. The US retail giant responded to a letter from Senator Ed Markey, who wrote that Amazon appeared to be profiting from panic buying related to the epidemic. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York Attorney General has blocked three Amazon sellers from price gouging hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that her office stopped three Amazon sellers from price gouging hand sanitizer during the pandemic, and will help deliver recoup funds to New Yorkers.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, Yvette Chaya d/b/a Northwest-Lux (Northwest-Lux), Mobile Rush, Inc. d/b/a Best_Deals_27 (Mobile Rush), and EMC Group, Inc. d/b/a Supreme Suppliers (EMC), will pay New York State over $52 thousand in penalties and reimburse consumers nearly $23 thousand for overcharging.

AG James commented on incidents that occurred during the early stages of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Price gouging on necessary consumer supplies during an unprecedented public health emergency is absolutely unconscionable and will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General James. “Instead of ensuring individuals could protect themselves from the coronavirus, these businesses operated with dirty hands by charging exorbitant prices on hand sanitizer and other cleansing products.”

The Office of the Attorney General listed the incidents that occured by each seller. They include the following:

  • Northwest-Lux sold nearly 1,168 units of PURELL hand sanitizer on its Amazon storefront from March 1 to March 6, 2020. Northwest-Lux charged consumers $79.99 to $129.99 for 2-liter bottles of PURELL®, typically $20.87 to $35.00, and $69.99 for 2-packs of PURELL® 20-ounce bottles, typically $14.88 to $35.10.
  • EMC sold approximately 1,884 units of hand sanitizer on its Amazon storefront from February 10, 2020 to March 4, 2020. EMS sold seven types of PURELL hand sanitizer products with prices ranging from $22.45 to $299.95.
  • Mobile Rush sold over three thousand units of hand sanitizer on Amazon from February 10, 2020 to March 11, 2020. Mobile Rush sold six types of Germ-X and PURELL hand sanitizer products with prices ranging from $19.99 to $159.99

According to the OAG, consumers involved in these price gouging incidents will not need to do anything to receive restitution. The Office stated that the companies are required to issue refunds to the credit card, debit card, or bank account that consumers used to make their original purchases.

The OAG confirmed that consumers will see the credit reimbursed within one to two billing cycles.

The investigations of Northwest-Lux, Mobile Rush, and EMC were handled by former Assistant Attorney General Melissa O’Neill, with assistance from Legal Assistant Christine Reynolds, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine — all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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