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No regulations in place to prevent overpricing of products amid coronavirus fears, Trade Me says

While online marketplaces worldwide are monitoring sellers and warning them against profiteering and capitalising on the coronavirus outbreak, New Zealand-based online marketplace Trade Me said these circumstances are “simply market forces at work.” 

Lisa Stewart, Trade Me’s head of marketplace, said they are aware that some sellers are attempting to make money from this event and are charging high prices for items like sanitiser and face masks while stores across the country run low or sell out, they haven’t really posted any rules on their site to regulate the prices of these items.  

“We understand that this behaviour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but we don’t regulate the prices of items on our site,” Stewart said. 

“At the end of the day, these are trades between a willing buyer and a willing seller and the prices are simply market forces at work.” 

A 500 millilitre hand sanitiser, which normally costs $5 to $8, is being sold at $20 to $25 on Trade Me.

EBay issued a statement last week warning sellers against price gouging and keyword spamming, saying listings that attempt to profit from tragedies and disasters like the coronavirus outbreak are prohibited. Sellers were also reminded to comply with eBay listing policies.

Amazon Japan and Japanese online retailer Mercari have removed overpriced products like surgical masks and wipes or tissue paper from their platforms to stop vendors from capitalising and profiteering from consumers’ fears about the coronavirus crisis.

According to Worldometers, there are now about 95,481 people worldwide infected with the coronavirus with 3,285 reported deaths.

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