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Wed Mar 11 2020 10:35:24

New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

By: Ina Steiner

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told eBay and Amazon to "stop price gouging" during a theatrical press release on Monday where he introduced hand sanitizer manufactured by the State of New York. His state is seeing a growing number of cases of coronavirus COVID-19.

The Governor said the state's product was superior to products currently on the market (he referred to Purell as a competitor to New York's new sanitizer) and said, "This is also much less expensive than anything government could buy." The state will produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week and will distribute it to "most impacted and high risk communities and state agencies."

eBay banned the sale of hand sanitizer, masks, and disinfecting wipes on its marketplace on March 5th citing regulatory restrictions - in its announcement, eBay stated: "These listings may violate applicable US laws or regulations, eBay policies, and exhibit unfair pricing behavior for our buyers."

However, a search for hand sanitizer on eBay.com this morning showed active listings, including this one for "PURELL Advance Refreshing Gel Hand Sanitizer, 8 Fl. Oz., 1 Bottle Various Scent" listed for $29.99. The listing displays a banner from eBay "2,131 viewed per hour" indicating its popularity, and the listing states: "More than 10 available / 41 sold in 24 hours."

But there's another side of the story - some believe sellers should be allowed to sell items at whatever the price the market will bear.

One reader frustrated at the ban by eBay said, "The manufacturers of the face masks have raised prices 10 to 15 times the normal. And dealers like me have bought them to resale like normal and get them out to people who need and want them."

He said he has been selling medical grade face masks since 2003. "I sell medical and dental equipment and supplies. And to have eBay tell me I can't sale something that I bought to resale in my day to day business as a medical dental supplier Is BS! And then to see eBay purposely trying to force you to lower your prices to stay listed on their website I think is against fair business practices of California business and professions code."

He's also skeptical about what he has been told regarding the ban. "eBay has told me that they got an order from the Government not to let merchant's sale the masks on eBay. When I ask for a copy, they say they can not give it to me."

He also said it was ironic that eBay and Amazon were forcing off merchants like him that have been around and are charging a decent price for the masks, which could lead to people who need them not getting them. "I have had people on eBay tell me they need the masks for their family member who has a low immune system and needs the masks to wear everyday like before the Corona Virus. But now they can't get them. The more you take the masks off the market the higher the demand is going to be."

Sellers commenting on the EcommerceBytes Blog were divided about eBay's policy, including some nuanced opinions, such as the one from a seller who wrote, "Banning the masks I understand, but personally don't consider hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes a necessity. Regular soap and water works just fine and in some cases even better than hand sanitizer. Bleach or vinegar and a rag are just as effective surface cleaners, the wipes are simply a convenience."
  
The move by a government entity to produce products for its own use seems unusual, especially given the fact New York State is using prisoners to manufacture the product, according to Quartz.

This excerpt of the transcript of the Governor's presentation shows where he called out Amazon and eBay alleging price gouging:

"Also to Purell and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging we will introduce our product which is superior to your product and you don't even have the floral bouquet so stop price gouging. This is also much less expensive than anything government could buy. Just to give you an idea, a gallon bottle is $6.10. The seven-ounce bottle is $1.12, our cost, and then there is a very small size, here it is, which is 84 cents, so it's cheaper for us to make it ourselves than to buy it on the open market.

The medical supplier who sells on eBay had much to say, and we'll end this post with some of his thoughts - tell us what you think in the comments below:

"Look back at Russia during the cold war. People had to stand in line to get toilet paper. That was because the government wanted to control everything.

"If the outcome that these politicians want is for the prices to go down. Then they need to un restrict the market and prices will come down naturally. They do need to push the manufacturers that are here in the US to produce more also.

"But the more you restrict the masks the higher prices you will see and they will be scarcer then before. Not allowing the citizens of America a chance to buy what they want to spend their money on to protect their family is Un American!"

Update 3/11/2020The Altantic talked to some sellers, it's fascinating to hear them share their thoughts.



Comments (21) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: ElectronixRecyclers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 11:17:03 2020

I'm not entirely certain that the ninth and tenth amendments allow for the US or state governments to create and sell consumer products or engage in retail competition with citizens.  The amendments essentially say that the government can't engage in activities it isn't specifically authorized to engage in, and can't regulate or prohibit activities it doesn't have a specific mandate over.

This is usually worked around via the Interstate Commerce Clause, giving the federal government authority over matters that affect interstate trade and commerce.  The ICC has been interpreted very broadly (some might say too broadly) over the years.  Even so, the state of NY engaging in the retail sale of a consumer product runs into all kinds of issues.  States are not permitted to tax one another, so can the sanitizer be exported and sold outside of the state of NY?  The federal government itself is not permitted to tax states at different rates, either, so how does entering into sale of a retail product impact that.

I'm wondering if the governor hasn't opened an entire can of worms with this innovation.  Even "official" state products like license plates, signage required in workplaces, uniforms, and that sort of thing are almost always manufactured by private concerns under contract.

Then, you enter into an entire realm of unfair competition and labor practices with the reveal that it is being manufactured using prison labor.  This is absolutely unlawful.  The PIECP allows third-party private interests to buy and sell goods manufactured using prison labor, but restricts the states to using the products for themselves.  They cannot make and sell anything and sell it commercially.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 13:12:02 2020

... ahhh the idiot son of Mario Cuomo

his youtube announcement is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L5kjsKGedc

If hed like to clean something - maybe start with the NY City Subway system, Wall Street corruption, Amazon tax breaks and of course the insane highway taxes/tolls (like on the Verezzano Bridge)

(Just ask Curtis Sliwa about him)

By the time his phony baloney "case" end up in court - the spring/summer will be here and this will hopefully all get better.

This "guy" likes to threaten and bully people - its his "mo". He'd have to prove his case, and as we all "know" "Mr. eBay" (what a dope) doesnt actually sell anything - they are just a platform - they cant be sued.

Maybe Purell should sue HIM under RICO ... but thats another case entirely.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Mar 11 14:25:01 2020

I can understand that Mr. Cuomo might not know who is in charge at eBay (do we even know?), but to not know that Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon is ridiculous.  

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 18:39:56 2020

Is My Cuomo referring to the price gouging by Amazon or Ebay regarding virus products or the normal fees that they charge?

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Mar 11 18:49:45 2020

The old argument about supply and demand is just a lame excuse to take advantage of people. You never see a seller unwilling to sell an item because demand is high. It's the exact opposite because they WANT to sell what's hot.

If what's hot is in short supply, do sellers stop selling or limiting customers to how much they can buy to make sure there's enough to go around? They might do the latter, but they'll never stop selling what they have in stock.

So, where's the argument for raising the price to ridiculous heights?

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 19:36:14 2020

As for what the governor is doing, there may be a legal issue somewhere, but I would think it would only apply if the city were profiting from the sale. From what I've read, it would seem they're selling it at cost. Maybe even less judging from his comment about it being less than what the government can get it for.

Anywho, I would have to confirm details to better judge if what he's doing is unethical. If it isn't unethical, then I wouldn't deem it illegal.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 19:40:24 2020

Ooops! I meant if the STATE were profiting. Brain glitch, sorry! LOL

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: ySirTinLee

Thu Mar 12 03:28:05 2020

Seems to me that people are reading something into this that isn't there.  Cuomo didn't say NY is selling hand sanitizer, he spoke about what it cost to make the stuff as apposed to the cost if bought on the open market.  As for Cuomo's statement about price gouging, well, everyone knows he's an idiot.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 04:13:16 2020

1)  NYC has a big homeless problem, I suspect that the virus will hit them soon.
2)  NYState making it's own hand sanitizer is genius.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: lancecorp This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 04:59:25 2020

NY State is producing it's own sanitizer - it's being made by prisoners in a correctional facility. My problem is Coumo is striking out at Amazon and Ebay instead of the 3rd party sellers that actually are selling the items and not all sellers are price gouging.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-york-sta
te-will-make-hand-sanitizer-amid-coronavirus-shortages/

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 06:22:21 2020

Cuomo, like other pols, is ignorant.  I've been watching his tenure in NY as governor, and he is one of the dumbest governors in the country.  How in the heck NYers elected him is a mystery.  His MTA executive that he hired from Canada just quit because he couldn't get along with Cuomo.  And don't get me started on the "free" bail program he supports.
When he held that presser, he gave 0 credit to the prisoners producing the sanitizer.  

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 06:36:17 2020

don't mean to be an arse but could you give away a free mask with every purchase? Might be a way to move some product that doesn't move anymore on ebay

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 07:06:24 2020

@Whatever:  Hint -- Bandanas.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: Steve D This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 08:01:01 2020

While he IS an ass, ''mr.ebay and mr.amazon'' seems to be referring to the price gouging sellers. On the subject, IF YOU go into a store and buy up ALL THE PRODUCT on the shelf, YOU are creating the demand..which is creating a monopoly. They dont allow Att or spectrum to buy up competitors because of this. Oh and if anyone dislikes ebay fees.. go start a brick and mortar store, Im sure you will change your mind about that!  

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 12 09:39:32 2020

Maybe Mr Cuomo could elaborate why he lets only 1 or 2 internet companies to BUY UP all the frequency licenses in NYC and force consumers into have either only 1 choice, but in most cases no choice for internet service? (creating a monopoly which is worse then just hoarding)

But I guess not - its easier to APPEAR to be doing something, then actually do anything.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: VV

Thu Mar 12 10:09:06 2020

Where does he stand on Big Pharma ALWAYS price gouging on medications?

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri Mar 13 01:33:37 2020

Did everyone get this?

Dear z50com,

A health crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak presents unexpected and unprecedented challenges for businesses, both small and large. We’re monitoring the situation closely and, along with the safety of our employees, our top priority is our sellers.

In an effort to protect our employees throughout this event, people from some offices globally have been working remotely from home where appropriate or required by government agencies. That said, normal work continues— seller tools are still available, and employees are working every day in service to our community.

In supporting our sellers, we will stay in close contact with our service carriers and will extend seller protections should services become interrupted. In the meantime, here are some ways you can take care of your health and business right now:

Stay safe. Stay informed.
The health and safety of you and your community is most important. Stay up to date and informed on ways to protect your health and others at official sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and your local health department.

Partner with your customers.
As always, let your buyers know if there may be delays getting your items out the door. Use social media to let your regular shoppers and followers know, and turn on vacation mode to alert potential buyers if you can’t get your shipments out the door on time.

We will monitor the situation with shipping service providers and, as always, if there are interruptions in service, we will protect you.

Stay connected with us and the eBay community.
Your fellow eBay sellers are more than just a resource for improving and growing your business. They’re also a link to the world around you, and your online connections are now becoming even more important.

With over 8 million members, the eBay Community offers real-time advice across thousands of discussion threads, forums, groups, and regular Community Chat hours. We’ll be staying connected with you through the boards and listening to your feedback.

We are providing our sellers who host in-person Community Events with resources to run these events online. If you are a member of a Community Group and are not comfortable joining an upcoming Community Event in person, ask the host to consider holding a virtual event.

You can also connect with fellow sellers through social media. Follow eBay for Business on Facebook and seek out other online groups passionate about selling.

Direct brick-and-mortar customers online.
Physical stores may see a decline in traffic during the outbreak, so if you have a brick-and-mortar store, let customers know that they can always shop your inventory on eBay.

Again, the health of you and those in your community is most important. Stay safe and, as always, thank you for selling on eBay.

Jordan Sweetnam
SVP and General Manager Americas Market

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 15 07:53:33 2020

Yes Tool

In between mouthfuls of jelly beans, eBay sent out that email- it means nothing.


Be it Covad or bubonic plague, as a seller it’s still all your fault and if you ship late or don’t ship or do any other “infraction “ you will still get in trouble.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: BMTOKC This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 15 07:58:47 2020

You are ALL forgetting when the president declares a NATIONAL EMERGENCY, ALL BETS ARE OFF. IT gives the Prez and The Govt. untold powers and we and commerce are in the way. It's just short of declaring Martial Law. Study it instead of gritchin.

Also, what's coming are Travel restrictions within the Country. This may require the declaration of martial law.

Better start stocking up on FOOD and other necessities such as medicine. And if you have personal protection devices, better start stocking up on food for them.

Perminate Link for New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay   New York Governor Threatens Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 19 23:54:20 2020

Pace said, "Maybe Mr Cuomo could elaborate why he lets only 1 or 2 internet companies to BUY UP all the frequency licenses in NYC and force consumers into have either only 1 choice, but in most cases no choice for internet service? (creating a monopoly which is worse then just hoarding)"

Thank you. Same BS goes on down here. We lived in the area that had the best service for decades. Now, we're just blocks away from their service area and pay just as much, if not more, for lesser services.

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