State AGs urge online retailers to crack down on coronavirus price gouging

State AGs urge online retailers to crack down on coronavirus price gouging
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A bipartisan group of state attorneys general on Wednesday sent letters to major retailers urging them crack down on price gouging on their online platforms amid the spread of coronavirus

The 34 AGs recommended for Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to build tools to detect price spikes and create landing pages for people to report cases of price gouging.

“Major online businesses must ensure consumers are charged fair prices when they shop on their platforms,” Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement on the letters. “We appreciate the efforts these companies are making during this difficult time and are hopeful that they will continue work with State Attorneys General to do more to root out price gouging online and protect consumers.”

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The letter cited several reported cases of price gouging related to coronavirus, including hand sanitizer and face masks prices spiking at least 50 percent and an eight ounce bottle of Purell selling for 40 dollars on Facebook marketplace.

The attorneys general said their offices have been receiving reports of price gouging daily.

While many retailers have taken steps to address the issue, they haven't done enough, the letter stated. Other government entities have also stepped up pressure on price gouging.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE on Monday signed an executive order aimed at preventing price gouging and hoarding of critical medical supplies. It would allow the Department of Justice to apply criminal penalties if supplies deemed critical are hoarded, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDecentralized leadership raises questions about Trump coronavirus response Feds distributing masks, other gear seized in price-gouging investigation to NY, NJ health care workers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All eyes on today's unemployment numbers MORE explained.

A group of Democratic senators introduced a bill Wednesday prohibiting selling, or offering to sell, essential items at excessive — defined as 20 percent above normal — prices during crises.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put incredible stress on consumers and we must make sure that they can afford essential goods and services,” Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden says his administration could help grow 'bench' for Democrats Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus MORE (D-Minn.) said in a statement. “All consumers should have access to the products and services they need to protect their families at fair, uninflated prices.”