Stop Price Gouging of Toilet Paper on Ebay!

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The Problem

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has stirred consumers into panic buying the most basic necessities, most notably toilet paper [1]

It's OK to stock up for personal use, given the uncertainty of the situation and the recent events from our neighbors in the east.

However, certain individuals have taken advantage of this situation by charging extreme prices for toilet paper.

A quick search for "toilet paper" on Ebay reveals a crappy situation.

People are selling rolls of toilet paper for over 5 times the price [2,3,4]

Ebay has already implemented measures to deter the sale of face masks and hand sanitizer for profit, why not toilet paper?

People choose to buy at these prices, isn't it a free market?

Sure, but certain states in the USA have already enacted anti-price gouging laws during a state of emergency.

For example, in California: [5]

"California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared.

The statute applies immediately after the President of the United States, the Governor of California, or city or county executive officer declares a state of emergency

Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violations are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.

The Attorney General, local district attorneys, and private individuals can bring actions for violations of the statute."

Enabling this market encourages people to go out and buy toilet paper at retail stores for the sole purpose of profit, inflating the price of toilet paper for the average consumer due to scarcity.

What can I as an individual do to deter price gouging of toilet paper on Ebay?

First, please sign the petition to help spread awareness of this cause.

Second, please flag listings to Ebay.

According to Reddit user "OneVeryBadKat", Ebay has responded well to reports of unfair price gouging [6]

Please report listings by doing the following [7]:

- On the listing, please click "report item" located above the description field.
- For Report Category, select "Listing Practices"
- For Reason for Report, select "Search and Browse Manipulation"
- For Detailed Reason, select "Other Search and Browse Manipulation"

Under brief description, include "Price gouging of a basic necessity" as the reason.

What should Ebay do?

Introduce measures to deter the sale of toilet paper for profit during the COVID-19 pandemic, much like face masks and hand sanitizer.

Listing descriptions containing the word "toilet paper" or related keyword should be screened for price gouging.

Most listings will have a UPC code from which a price comparison can be looked up online.

References:

[1]  https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-panic-buying-toilet-paper-stockpiling-photos-2020-3

[2]https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Charmin-ultra-soft-toilet-paper-9-Mega-36-regular-rolls-Same-Day-Shipping/153865009862?hash=item23d311bac6:g:BacAAOSwfAhea~Vb

[3]https://www.ebay.com/itm/202932927814?ul_noapp=true

[4]https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-3-Charmin-Ultra-Soft-Toilet-Paper-6-Roll-Count-18-ROLLS-TOTAL/193382783256?hash=item2d06831918:g:ScoAAOSwfF1ebWI3

[5] https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/pricegougingduringdisasters#2C

[6]https://www.reddit.com/r/China_Flu/comments/fij0p2/price_gouging_ebay_is_taking_reports_seriously/

[7] https://community.ebay.com/t5/Buying/How-do-I-report-price-gouging/td-p/30748361

 

 

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