SNP Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs, Patricia Gibson MP has called on the UK Government to prevent unreasonable hikes in prices of essential items by online retailers during emergencies; a practice known as price gouging.
The call comes after reports of excessive prices for in-demand items such as cleaning products and baby formula during the current Covid-19 crisis, particularly through online retailers such as Ebay and Amazon.
Which? found a 1,000% increase in the price of products like Dettol cleaning spray by some third-party sellers online and in response has launched an app whereby consumers can report price gouging.
Mrs Gibson has welcomed the app and said that stronger regulations are required to enable the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate and tackle the problem.
Mrs Gibson said:
“Making excessive profits on high demand products during a global health crisis is scandalous.
“Many vulnerable people may feel they have no choice but to pay or go without. Stronger action is needed to stop this kind of unscrupulous practice.
“I welcome the launch by consumer champions Which? of an app to help people more easily report coronavirus profiteering and urge constituents to report any incidences they come across.
“Big online retailers like Amazon and Ebay must also do more to monitor what their sellers charge and act when bad practice is found.
“There is still an absence of legislation to protect against price gouging and UK Ministers must give the Competition and Markets Authority the powers it needs to investigate and protect people now and in any future emergency.”