Amazon has removed more than 530,000 listings from its marketplace and suspended 2,500 US sellers for coronavirus-related price gouging, the company told a US senator.
The company is also working with state attorneys general to prosecute “the worst offenders,” it told Sen. Ed Markey in a letter dated Friday.
The disclosure comes as demand spikes — both online and off — for supplies including face masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. CVS and Walgreens have warned of possible shortages.
In its letter, Amazon said it is using a mix of "automated and manual methods” to identify cases of price gouging.
"Our selling partners submit billions of price changes every week,” the letter reads, "and our automated tools scan them on an ongoing basis. We continuously compare the prices submitted by our selling partners with current and historic prices within and outside of the Amazon store. We apply price thresholds and machine learning models to determine whether those prices are fair for our customers.”
In light of the coronavirus fears, however, Amazon has stepped up its manual audits with a dedicated team working around the clock — using keywords to search for products that are being unfairly marked up.
Markey had previously questioned the online retailer about its efforts to combat price gouging, expressing concerns in a March 4 letter saying “corporate America has a responsibility to prevent profiteering."
In a tweet on Saturday, Markey said he was glad to see Amazon’s response. “All online retailers need to hold accountable predatory price-gougers who are profiting from panic,” Markey said.