This week has not been a good one for Amazon. Since the beginning of the lockdown, price gouging has been a huge problem with online marketplaces. However, Amazon has worked to prevent third-party sellers from using the site to take advantage of shoppers. They have removed over a million listings and 10,000 sellers from the platform for price gouging. But, it turns out that Amazon's first-party prices are also out of control.
Consumer watchdog organization Public Citizen released a new report showing that Amazon has raised prices on some of its first-party products up to 1000% above their normal prices. They point out two products, in particular: face masks which raised to $40 instead of $4, and corn starch which raised to $9 from $0.90.
It is troubling that so much effort was put into blaming third-party sellers, but so little effort was made to stop the price increases-including on the products sold by Amazon directly. Amazon is not merely a victim in the price gouging on its marketplace. It is a perpetrator.
But first-party pricing isn't the only issue plaguing the platform. First-party products from the AmazonBasics line are seeing a huge number of serious defects. The company has previously had issues with products still being listed and sold on its platform after serious defects or even recalls, but those came from third-party sellers. It's a challenge for the company to regulate every listing, but when it comes to its own products, they seem to ignore issues.
Experts at the University of Maryland, as part of a CNN investigation into over 1500 consumer reviews about seriously faulty products, were able to replicate some of the issues. The most dangerous was an AmazonBasics microwave which has a tendency to spark, which could lead to a fire. Amazon disagrees with the report's use of consumer reviews but ignores video evidence of the issues.