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Attorney General Steve Marshall partners with eBay to combat COVID-19 price gouging

Attorney General Steve Marshall is partnering with eBay to stop online price gouging of Alabamians during the current pandemic.
Credit: Steve Marshall

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Attorney General Marshall has partnered with eBay in an initiative to protect the people of Alabama from coronavirus-related price gouging.

RELATED: Don’t be a victim of COVID-19 "price gouging": Report it

“I am pleased to welcome the cooperation of eBay in assisting my office in locating and shutting down online price gouging related to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Attorney General Marshall. “While unscrupulous operators too often prey upon the public during times of disaster, e-commerce businesses like eBay have the ability to identify bad actors and stop their illicit businesses from claiming more victims.”

eBay has a policy in place that prohibits price gouging. 

The site recently announced it would temporarily prohibit the sale of certain masks and hand sanitizers.

Some of their new restrictions affect:

  • baby formula,
  • baby wipes 
  • diapers
  • tampons
  • toilet paper

In addition, it added a price gouging reporting tool, allowing users to directly report concerning listings to eBay representatives for review.

“At eBay, our priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and employees around the world. We have been closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have taken significant measures to block or quickly remove items from our marketplace that make false health claims or offer products at inflated prices in violation of applicable laws,” said Aaron Johnson, eBay Vice President of Legal. “We share Attorney General Marshall’s concerns about protecting consumers from price gouging and look forward to continuing to collaborate on this important issue.” 

Attorney General Marshall announced that Alabama’s price gouging law went effect with the issuance of a State Public Health Emergency by Governor Kay Ivey on March 13. 

RELATED: Gov. Ivey encourages people to continue practicing social distancing

Although what constitutes an unconscionable price is not specifically set forth in state law, the Attorney General's office says that a price that is 25% or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days is usually accepted as a case of unconscionable pricing.

The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

RELATED: Non-essential Alabama businesses ordered to close

The people of Alabama are encouraged to report suspected price gouging to the Consumer Interest Division of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office using the online form, or by calling 1-800-392-5658 to receive a paper form by mail to complete and return.

Attorney General Marshall has also announced partnerships with Amazon and Facebook.