Amazon pledged Thursday to take steps to fight price gouging after a US senator complained of "unjustifiably high prices" on hand sanitisers 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.
"We agree with Senator Markey -- there is no place for price gouging on Amazon and that's why our teams are monitoring our store 24/7 and have already removed tens of thousands of offers for attempted price gouging," an Amazon spokesperson said in an email.
"We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to take advantage of this global health crisis and, in addition to removing these offers, we are terminating accounts." About half of Amazon sales come from third-party vendors as part of the company's online "marketplace."
Markey questioned Amazon's vigilance after a series of media reports highlighted markups on some items of as much as 2,000 percent, with one report indicating the company's enforcement of its fair-pricing policy as "haphazard."
"No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering," Markey said Wednesday. "I'm calling on Amazon to stop and prevent coronavirus-inspired price gouging."