Money & Banking
Why one man's bulk buying hand sanitiser scheme failed
Amazon has cracked down on pandemic price gouging, which resulted in the company suspending Colvin’s account.
He drove over 2,000 kilometres across Tennessee, stocking up on hand sanitiser and sanitary wipes but is now unable to get rid of the excess of goods.
He’s not the first account to be suspended, with Amazon removing hundreds of thousands of listing of people trying to price gouge items others are looking for, including respiratory masks.
Colvin said to The New York Times that the whole experience has been a “huge amount of whiplash”, as he was able to sell 300 bottles at a markup before the company suspended his account.
However, Colvin has since donated all of the supplies on Sunday just as the Tennessee attorney general’s office began investigating him for price gouging.
He helped volunteers from a local church load two-thirds of the stockpile of hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes into a box truck that will distribute the goods across the state to those who need them.
“I’ve been buying and selling things for 10 years now. There’s been hot product after hot product. But the thing is, there’s always another one on the shelf,” he said.
“When we did this trip, I had no idea that these stores wouldn’t be able to get replenished.”
After receiving hate mail and death threats after The New York Times published an article about him, Colvin has since expressed remorse for his actions.
“It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them,” he said, crying. “That’s not who I am as a person. And all I’ve been told for the last 48 hours is how much of that person I am.”
Tennessee’s price gouging laws are strict and prohibit charging “grossly excessive” prices for a range of items, including medical supplies. People can be fined up to $1,000 per violation, and the attorney general’s office sent Colvin a cease-and-desist letter as well as opening up an investigation.
“We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it,” Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee said in a news release.
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