AMAZON has been referred to the regulators after being accused of 'price gouging' during the pandemic, with prices for essential items reportedly inflated.

The union has claimed 50 different items, including soap and face masks, were being sold for at least double their price from March 2020 and November 2020.

It has submitted a complaint to the Competition & Markets Authority and has called for the retailer to pay back any overcharges relating to reportedly inflated items. 

Amazon has since responded saying it had removed and terminated accounts found to be price gouging, while it said there is "no place" for such activity on its website.

The Northern Echo: Amazon in Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTAmazon in Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Protesters are due to meet in Middlesbrough later today as part of Unite the Union's campaign against "pandemic profiteering," and alleged poor working conditions.

Demonstrations are due to be held at Middlesbrough landmarks including the Riverside Stadium, Transporter Bridge and the Town Hall between 10am and midday.

As part of its campaign, Unite has submitted its first formal complaint to the Competition & Markets Authority, where it has claimed Amazon abused its market position.

The trade union said vulnerable and older people, forced to stay at home due to lockdown restrictions, had been particularly exposed to inflated costs for essential items.

In addition to the 50 different items found, it alleged that items such as a Braun Thermoscan 7 digital thermometer saw prices shoot from £39.99 to £149.99.

The Northern Echo:

Amazon said it removed listings which violated its terms 

Meanwhile, it said a Carex antibacterial hand lotion was seen priced at £26.41 in March 2020, yet the month before it was priced at £1.

'It's time for Amazon to be held to account'

Sharon Graham, Unite Executive Officer for Organising and Leverage, said: “Amazon is steeped in corporate irresponsibility, from its anti-union tactics to tax avoidance.

"Now Amazon stands accused of profiting from price gouging on its website at the height of the pandemic when vulnerable people were most at need.

"It's time for Amazon to be held to account."

Unite the Union has been campaigning nationally in recent months over alleged poor working practices and "anti-union" tactics at its warehouses across the UK.

What Amazon has said

In response to the claims on price gouging, Amazon said it continued to monitor its site round-the-clock and act on any instances of sellers violating its policies.

It also said that it had worked with regulators to stop attempts from some accounts to "take advantage" of the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Amazon told The Northern Echo: “There is no place for price gouging on Amazon.

"We worked with the CMA more than a year ago to stop attempts by some sellers to take advantage of the global health crisis.

"Our action at the time was clear and decisive - we removed the offers referenced in this complaint and terminated seller accounts.

"We continue to monitor our store 24/7 to remove offers that violate our policies.”

Amazon has previously refuted any suggestion that its workers in the North East are not offered a "safe" workplace, saying it respects its employees' rights to join or form a union, which Unite "already knows."


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