Nearly three dozen state attorneys general have called on Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to fight price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.
Novel measures by the companies to prevent overcharging have not been enough, the coalition wrote in letters to all five companies’ CEOs. (CNN has obtained copies of all five letters.)
"Even new protections by your company including heightened monitoring, bans on certain advertisements, and bans on selling certain items, have failed to remove unconscionably priced critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the attorneys general wrote. “When consumers cannot get what they need to protect their homes and loved ones—or in this case, help prevent the spread of the virus—consumers suffer not only economic harm, but serious health consequences as well.”
The 33-member coalition behind the letters includes the top law enforcement officials of California, Louisiana, New York, North Dakota, Utah and Pennsylvania, among others. Some in the group have been tough critics of the tech industry and are in the midst of antitrust investigations into Google and Facebook.
More context: Earlier this week, Amazon said it has banned as many as 3,900 seller accounts from its platform for price gouging, and continues to use a mix of algorithms and human reviewers to fight price gougers. In a blog post Monday, the company said it has “zero tolerance” for price gouging and reports suspected price gougers to state attorneys general.
As recently as last week, CNN reported that ads for face masks still remain on platforms such as Facebook, despite the company’s pledge to ban them.
The companies named in the letters didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the letters.