Search on Amazon for the keyword “coronavirus” and you’ll find no shortage of information for products being sold across the marketplace.
In the past few weeks, Amazon stopped more than one million products from being sold that inaccurately claimed to cure or stop the spread of coronavirus. It also has stopped the sale of price gouging.
For example, a company lists a 10-pack of 3M 8511 Respirator, N95, Cool Flow Valve for $235. At the normal price, they sell for up to $50 in local medical supply stores, if you can find them. Then there’s a 20-pack of 3M 8511 respirators, N95, Cool Flow Valve, for $399. And that’s the challenge.
The 10-pack listing still serves up on Amazon, but clicking through to a product shows the item is no longer for sale on the site.
Earlier this week, Amazon warned sellers not to gouge users as prices skyrockets and features about coronavirus rose. Prices for masks have tripled or more, although the Centers for Disease Control is not currently advising that the general public wear masks.
Reuters reported that Amazon launched a probe into price-gouging in Italy for sanitizing gels and masks following news of the outbreak there, where cases spiked to 17 deaths and 650 ill as of February 27.
The challenges are not limited to price gouging. The site also has been flooded with false claims about products that either prevent or “kill” the virus. One media outlet said the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning to consumers to watch out for “low-quality or counterfeit masks” or online store scams.
Amazon on Friday also began restricting nonessential employee travel in the United States to monitor the situation with the virus.