eBay gets heavy on Coronavirus price gouging

By Chris Dawson March 20, 2020 - 8:13 pm

As part of a global initiative, eBay will immediately heavily restrict the sale of all masks and hand sanitiser products on the marketplace in a bid to stamp out Coronavirus price gouging. Unscrupulous sellers attempting to sell these items will find their listings blocked or removed and their account suspended. They’ll end up like the muppet who scooped up 17,700 hand sanitisers hoping to make a killing and now has no where to sell them.

Only a whitelist of closely vetted eBay sellers will be permitted to continue trading these items at appropriate prices, enabling people to continue sourcing the items they need. Other products will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Following the outbreak of coronavirus, eBay had started to see a small but growing number of sellers attempting to exploit other users by listing in-demand products at unreasonably inflated prices – an activity known as ‘price gouging’. eBay has zero-tolerance for this type of behaviour and, like governments and business around the world, has adapted and evolved its policies as the coronavirus pandemic has developed. Since the outbreak, eBay has updated its measures and removed listings that are priced unfairly.

Since the end of February, eBay has had block filter algorithms in place and a global security team working around the clock to remove listings and taken enforcement action against unscrupulous sellers who persist in attempting to circumvent eBay filters. New and additional measures are continually being introduced, and eBay has increased the size of its global security enforcement team. To date, eBay has removed over 350,000 items relating to coronavirus and has suspended hundreds of seller accounts.

eBay is an open marketplace with 1.3 billion listings live at any given time. For over 24 years, it has remained a popular platform for millions of people around the world to trade items – and the overwhelming majority of sellers do not attempt to exploit other users. For example, recent analysis of relevant protection masks sold on eBay shows that 95% were bought at reasonable prices.

What this does mean is that respectable sellers who have stock but aren’t on eBay’s white list of approved sellers won’t be able to sell Coronavirus related essentials on the marketplace.

“Our policy is simple and clear. We do not allow the unfair exploitation of our customers. Price gouging, particularly during this period when people are worried, will not be tolerated on eBay. We are doing all we can to abolish this selfish behaviour that is having a wider impact across the retail landscape. I can confirm we have already suspended hundreds of accounts and will continue to take all the necessary enforcement action on sellers who persist with this behaviour.
The reality is that unreasonably priced listings are already being blocked or removed from eBay. Where users are trying to circumvent our filters, they are finding that people are not buying products at their unreasonable prices. It’s not working for them. We will implement new measures designed to ensure only legitimate sellers are permitted on site and customers will only see fairly priced items.
The wellbeing of our users in the UK has always and will always be eBay’s priority, and we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring everyone can find the products they need at reasonable prices during this difficult time.”

– Rob Hattrell, UK Vice-President, eBay

  • Wayne
    3 weeks ago

    Oh sure, these sellers on Ebay continue to stand in long lines every morning to buy as much paper and canned products at stores across the US. Then putting up on ebay for 3-7 times the cost. I really hope this will permanently shut ebay done, or get rid of listings for paper products, canned goods etc

    • Liz
      1 week ago

      I talked to a seller wto has one of First products and this product is overpriced as 30ml cost 6gbp but they whitelisted him ..
      What they say is a lie. Is just cover for Monopoly!

    • 1 week ago

      I just went on eBay today to look for Clorox wipes that I usually buy at Walmart or target for 3.99 and today March 30 ,2020 they are selling one with 80 wipes in it f between 70 and 90 dollars. I’m not a bad person but I hope who ever does this dies from the virus for you are one of the lowest human beings. And don’t deserve to live. And if I knew your address and I not always a nice guy but I would come over with a couple others who think like me and take them from you by force if I had to and pray you would try and stop me for you can’t go any lower

    • 1 week ago

      I see small stores in my area selling toilet paper that was 6 dollars and now it’s 16.99 . I told them I hope someone comes in teaches you a lesson. For you help neighbors in your neighborhood not rip them off. For those small stores make a killing as it is but treat people right. For if something bad happens to the owner the people will not defend him. But the chicken chit owner leaves and tells the Mexicans what’ to sell it for . And you can’t report it for I found out the process sucks

    • Denise May
      5 days ago

      Ebay isnt doing what they say,theres thousands of listing for face masks toilet paper and hand sanitizer listing from 100.00 to 6000.Ebay puts up that they are putting filters to stop ppl,but it’s a cover up. They are NOT. , I been going through listening for several hours today reporting price gouging. I will check these listing every 24 hour for a week. If they are not taking them out I’m going to report Ebay for not taking these down.

    • 3 days ago
      Still items are sold 4x more expensive than mine but mine are removed day by day..

    • Liz
      3 days ago

      If anyone needs cheap set or any nurse.. We have small local production or registered anti viral biocidal that you can use on your clothes mask phone and hands keys door handles lift buttons

  • 2 weeks ago

    What about Ebay auctions for Corona Virus supplies? How can that type of sale be considered price gouging when the lister of the item(s) doesn’t set the price. The bidders do.

  • Susan
    2 weeks ago

    Is there a way to report Coronavirus price gougers? I have seen the same ones on for the last week and they should be shut down…amongst other things. I can’t find the items I need from the stores or store websites probably because these sellers have bought them out to profit off this virus. It’s sickening.

  • Magda
    2 weeks ago

    Every day there are more and more listings for so-called “prohibited” items on eBay. Cleaning products, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and even the 3M masks that are desperately needed by healthcare professionals are being listed and sold by sellers who often have large quantities of these items. I’ve seen sold listings for these masks for literally hundreds of dollars. Sellers are going in to stores and clearing the shelves, and by deceptive item descriptions, spelling alterations, they are able to list these items and make a lot of money. In order to stop the price gouging, eBay needs to penalize sellers by suspending them. If sellers know they could be suspended from selling on eBay temporarily or for good, they would be less likely to price gouge and hoard essential items. EBay, Amazon, and other selling websites needs to address this issue. They claimed they weren’t allowing these items to be sold anymore, but they are still being sold, and eBay and Amazon are profiting from it. Is this grounds for a class action lawsuit? Can some penalty be levied against these companies for promising to stop it and not doing so? If eBay and Amazon are depending on the public and ethical sellers to report these sales, perhaps they should hire more people or pay a commission for reporting unethical, price gouging, and banned item listings.

  • Magda
    2 weeks ago

    I just want to add that when Mr. Hatrell claims that “When users are trying to circumvent our filters, they are finding that people are not buying products at their unreasonable prices,” it is completely untrue. There are sold listings for 3M masks for hundreds of dollars in the USA, and these are not the only items that are showing as sold listings for ridiculous prices. When he says, “It’s not working for [price gougers],” this is patently false. Obviously, when someone sells items bought for a near pittance for hundreds of dollars, both the seller and eBay make a tidy profit.

  • joe
    2 weeks ago

    Lol Ebay white list = All the companies and buddies they have shares and investments with so obvious to anyone with a brain , i suspect Amazon will do the same block every other seller reputable or not and sell these items themselves nothing new here

    • 1 week ago

      This is true. We are not allowed to sell 100ml for 3.95 minus all fees and costs. But others can sell 30ml for 5.99 because they are waitlisted. I talked to some people and I was calling ebay. I there is no way to become waitlisted even when I am authorised representative or uk biocidal production.

  • Marcus Taylor
    2 weeks ago

    Stop whining buyers…its only the flu

    • Alan Paterson
      2 weeks ago

      @ Marcus – if thats your opinion Marcus then you need to re look at the stats. This is a bit more than the flu. Your post is irresponsible.

      I would survive the flu. This virus i would likely not survive – given my age and pre-existing medical conditions. I have already had the experience of being placed on a ventilator just over a year ago. When you are being told by the medical staff that you may not wake up – it is a new level of scary.

      With so many fatalities already and idiots not even making an attempt to socially isolate I think it is disrespectful and irresponsible to say “its only the flu”.

    • jim
      2 weeks ago

      with Alan here
      this is going to kill parents and grand parents,
      and orphan the young ,its as stark as that!
      dont be a modern day hero ,thinking your some sort of rebel against the establishment,
      I have Italian family and friends Their frightened!

    • Asshole
      2 weeks ago


  • Dave
    2 weeks ago

    ebay a few days ago, 1 x pack of ASDA 30p paracetamol, sold for over £17. Yes, the seller started at £2.99 and the market took it to £17, but that market is based on fear and the fact it is sold out everywhere due to morons panic buying.

    These sellers are not regular sellers of medicines etc, just profiteers based on misery and fear.

    Very few have a licence to sell drugs, whose to say what is in them, it just seems very wrong and ebay should have a report category “Corona Profiteering” so these things can be easily reported.

  • 2 weeks ago

    So where is the “easy reporting” function ???????

    It’s all the standard terms, none of which are relevant – maybe we should just clog the call centre and online chat?

    “doing all they can” clearly doesn’t extend to a couple of extra lines of code

    Usual eBay response.

    They can’t police their own policies in normal trading times, let alone this…

    • 3 days ago

      Reporting whitelisted sellers does not change much. We need NEWS to report it to the world.
      Still items are sold 4x more expensive than mine but mine are removed day by day..

  • I wonder if on the marketplaces, in the high profile categories i.e. medical supplies/grocery etc have a report item button: “Price Gouging” and then like the VERO programme the listing becomes auto suspended i.e. guilty before innocent.

    Don’t make it a one-click action as people will take advantage and report competitors etc. Make it a series of questions and require evidence.

    The listing then becomes suspended pending human review.

    Once several have been stopped and word gets round that listings are being stopped and severe action being taken then others will follow.

    • Liz
      3 days ago

      It does not help as ebay do not remove whitelisted sellers listings

  • 2 weeks ago

    Just thought the following might be of interest to people.

    I had a few messages from ebay this morning saying some items have been removed the message read:

    “We had to remove your listing because it didn’t follow our Disaster and tragedy policy. Listings or items that portray, glorify, or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering, or that are insensitive to victims of such events, are not allowed.”

    I then questioned this as the items ended are nothing to do with anything, they are dishwasher and fridge spare parts that have been selling for years.

    sent a message back

    Enter your question/concern
    We have had a number of listings ended due to ‘Disaster & Tragedy Policy’. The items in question have nothing to do with this subject and have been GTC listings for a long time previously.
    Maybe there are keywords that your automated robots are picking up on? They are just boiler heating elements that we sell lots of different types.
    Please can you look at these and get them relisted as they are irrelevant to what is going on in the world today.

    Got the following response:

    In relation to the listings and their removal, I have been onto the Security team and they have said the majority of removals are done by automatic sweeps and the items should not have been included.

    I will of course get them reinstated for you now and they will appear in your unsold section in approx 30 minutes.

    We cannot ‘dial down’ the sweeping tools criteria but obviously if this does happen to any more of your items then do come back to us and we can review it right away.

    Thank you for your understanding in this matter and I hope you keep yourself safe.

  • Elmer brown
    2 weeks ago

    As recently as today 3/24/2020 2:24 est. E Bay continues to allow price gouging. I have reported several item like MEMBERS MARK 45 LARGE 🧻 TOILET PAPER 2-PLY SOFT BATH TISSUE 5 PACKS OF 9 ROLLS current bid $86 + $25 shipping.
    NEW Wet Ones Hand Wipes 20ct x 5 Packages – 100 Wipes + 8oz Meijer Gel
    $124. More efforts need to be done to sellers and people who made major profits off price gouging.

    • 1 week ago

      They blocked whole health and beauty – hand sanitisers section where they keep only small list of sellers whitelisted, but those rip off clients not less than new could sell. They keep the situation worse not letting more product on the market!

      Report by those auctions in hand sanitiser category!

  • Chasity Gates
    2 weeks ago

    I’d be worried someone might come after me for ripping them off. All addresses are printed on the labels. I wouldn’t want to risk it and I wouldn’t feel good about myself either by profiting from fear during a crisis such as this.

  • Vicky
    2 weeks ago

    EBay seems to be very confused on what qualifies as price gouging. They emailed and actually said that selling an item at a fixed price was fine, but as an auction, even started at a low dollar amount, it was considered gouging even while still sitting below avg retail price. So apparently telling someone to pay you $X amount or they can’t have it is ok, but allowing them to choose their own price tag and put their own value on the item is not ok. They also seem to forget that shipping isn’t cheap, esp on large items, nor is the compensation to Travel and hunt down some of these items the customers request which means a markup above typical retail value is necessary to meet the cost of the increasing demand as it grows.
    They also keep removing items for gouging and disaster policy that have nothing to do with either and refuse to follow up with the email to fix the situation. They’ve went as far today as to tap into my bank account and start pulling money to refund people on items that they suddenly “removed” that were already sold, shipped and have already been received and used by the customer, and the customer was happily using the product and gave good feedback on already. This one really has me heated bc now I have no product and no money. Since they can’t seem to hire temp reps with enough sense to reply to an email I guess they’ll be getting a call bright and early.

    If anything, the blocking, the filtering, and all of this black listing id certain items is just causing more problems than its fixing. If they would just step back the system will flow fine. People who have money will bid. People without money will not bid. It’s as simple as that. Panic all they want, without the money they wouldn’t be in an auction or even contemplating paying the sellers who do charge Insane prices. Very quickly it will become a sellers game where the lower price wins the customers anyway. Just like in the real world, people will go out of their way to save .02 at the gas pump, it’s no different on the internet. stopping auctions and cutting off buyers right before they pay or get their item shipped is just pissing Them and the seller off and pushing them to go so business on the black market where they won’t have to pay eBay or anyone else any fees and they won’t have to worry about someone telling them how they are allowed to spend their own money.

    • Sonja Paris
      2 weeks ago

      You sound like one of the people that are a culprit of price gouging. So the rich can survive and those who can’t afford disinfectants anymore can croak. How you can even look into the mirror and still believe you are a decent human being is beyond me. I hope the law catches up with you and with people like you.

    • 1 week ago

      You are right, my lowest prices were also considered as too high, I gave 20 % off and Ebay takes 10% fee and PayPal takes 3% and you need to pack it and pay postage 6gbp.. For smaller items 3gbp. And I have to pay product yes? How much for me to earn? But you whitelisted sellers sell 30ml for 6gbp and 100ml for 16-25gbp I am not allowed 100ml for 3.95 – Ebay whitelisted MONOPOLY!! This needs news!

  • Jjj
    2 weeks ago

    Theres to many people bidding up the price not paying for the product then crying about price gouging you people need to be banned from ebay yoir the ones stealing from real bidders that need it.

    • Liz
      1 week ago

      Real sellers who have much cheaper products are blocked as only some are allowed to make huge money on this. HUGE! They make min 2k on each product a week. Count. 2000 items when they buy 3 pound and sell 16-25gbp, at least 500 pieces. 9 sold per hour!

  • Zsolt Sari
    2 weeks ago

    I’ve been terrorizing every ebay seller who try to exploit people’s desperation for over 4 days now!

    Why are they listing items as auction while these products are out of stock in every store in the whole country?!?
    I tell you why! Cause they are profiteering!!!

    List your items “buy it now”!!
    Or just take them back to store you bought them from for a refund, so someone who actually needs it could buy it!!!

    • Liz
      1 week ago

      It is not true. You have no knowledge about supermarkets policy. Mostly small manufacturing companies like ours won’t give product there as they don’t pay upfront and usually they won’t bother about loss or damage. So it is huge risk taking products there. Usually products have to be much lower quality for loaf eaters to make any profit on supermarket practices. We usually do wholesale. But we were not allowed to Ebay.. Why? We talked to them offended a deal to keep price low. Are they interested? No because there is already plenty of sellers that are allowed to stay in blocked categories and make huge money on desperated buyers.

  • ian
    1 week ago

    i know sellers that have been selling these products for months before the corona virus that have been told to take their listings down. also it should not be blanket imposed by algorithms and sellers should be warned about specific listings. i was selling vinyl gloves i was the cheapest on eBay £8.99 for 100, eBay wont speak to me, i am a director of two uk companies all 3 accounts restricted 2 of them not selling anything to do with protection i know other sellers with the same problem. meanwhile the UK public dont have the products they need to help stop the spread of this horrible disease people are dying and i hope the UK government takes action against eBay for helping the spread of this disease. and how about an email address contact phone number ect DONT TELL ME EBAY IS DOING ITS BIT ITS CAPITALISM AT ITS HEIGHT AND DOESN’T FOLLOW UK TRADING STANDARD LAWS OR UK TAX LAWS PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BUY WHAT THEY WANT AND NEED TO STAY SAFE. everything is in demand and all suppliers are increasing their prices daily and so are the big stores they have no choice unless they want to sell it cheaper than they are getting it for. PS the gloves now are £6.50 plus VAT to buy from my supplier of 5 years

    • Liz
      1 week ago

      Hi Ian. We produce hand sanitiser and we have the same problem. Contact me maybe we could cooperate some how.

  • Temjin
    1 week ago

    I’m surprised, or maybe not, that this problem is worldwide for eBay. Some of us are facing exactly the same situation in Australia. Whitelisted sellers continue to sell at crazy profit, while other sellers wish to compete by lowering prices aren’t allowed and get banned for price gouging. (By beating their competitors) trying to get whitelisted at the moment, but no reply, nothing. Stupid government here is still allowing established online retailers (not eBay) to sell them at huge markups, but ignore what eBay is going by limiting supplies. I have healthcare worker begging for them but cant buy through normal channel. EBay should be sued for the increase of deaths from covid 19 around the world by limiting supplies purposely for profit reasons.

    • M
      1 week ago

      How do you get whitelisted? And what does that mean as far as selling products at what price can you? Is that considered price gouging?
      Just seems like a lot of grey area…

  • Temjin
    1 week ago

    You supposed to email eBay (chat support will provide the address) for you to seek approval to be whitelisted. 3 days, no reply. Will check with chat support today. I was told via chat support that it does not matter if you sell it at $0.01, it is price gouging if you aren’t approved to sell them. Crazy.. if anyone here ever got whitelisted, pleaSe tell us the process.

    • M
      1 week ago

      Interesting I just emailed them to ask them how to get whitelisted to sell. It would be nice if we could help buyers in need without being “prosecuted” for “price gouging” which has so much grey area from research I’ve done. I don’t know hope to hear something…because there are soooo many listings for Lysol still selling…on their site. Will they all get in trouble? It’s just odd because how come they aren’t taking down the listings…like they did on the other items I.e. hand sanitizers masks…

  • ian
    7 days ago

    UK law not eBay law…the British medical society and trading standards both have the right to prosecute even they will try to educate rather than eradicate or prosecute ,eBay are not the police or a social barometer they are a high profit organisation who do not abide by laws and bleed governments of taxes directly effecting poor people in them countries now they are shutting UK Companies down whilst the UK government is having to and trying to keep them going with grants and furloughing employees ..get a grip people and get a grip eBay this action is indirectly killing UK trade and the UK public .

  • Jc
    7 days ago

    Seems as though some letters to the tabloids wouldn’t go amiss here? Ebay guilty of price fixing etc

  • 7 days ago

    Agreed. I for one am boycotting ebay.
    They have removed my fixed price listing even though it is cheaper than their sponsored items and a reasonable price. I make a £1 profit after all costs per item. Got from a factory in china too not a shop or supermarket.

  • Ray
    6 days ago

    Ebay whitelisted sellers are selling the same products at four times the cost. A pack of 9 loo rolls cheap quality , 2 ply 14.99. A genuine wholesaler was selling the a better quality 4 ply loo roll for 4.95. Their listing was removed for price gouching yet they were the cheapest on Ebay. Clearly their policy makes no sense whatsoever. Yet this is supposedly to eradicate high profit sales.

  • 6 days ago

    ok guys I KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON how to move it, at least in most of our problems. As I do enjoy IT and I was reading some comments and I post my self I found out this:
    -some categories are restricted, just accept it, use of near categories
    -no one is removing my price since I start posting from ebay app! I’m app is showing you price trends in this category and also you can see those other items
    – check unit size as often ebay takes set for two size items as one small item and will force you to sell both in the smallest price
    EDIT UNIT SIZE be sure you put your own or large enough that will show much different higher price on other auctions that ebay shows as example
    some could be your own auctions, I was forced to sell set in the same price as single large item, crazy but you can make price 10% higher but not too high.. Be careful, maybe on 15 pound 1-2 pound more but we even 2 could be too much.
    -if your auction removed, good news, make new one, no one will close your account, system is removing them, mostly after posting in one price and changing it higher +4 pound.
    I HOPE THIS HELPS wish you all enough of work and sales.

  • 6 days ago

    Forgive so many mistakes, I have new phone from 2 months and still got funny typing actions with it..

  • Charlotte Wilson
    5 days ago

    I hate the price gouging going on at ebay. Why can’t the grocery stores increase their shipments of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer. Obviously the need is there. People wouldn’t buy this stuff on ebay, etc., if they could find it at the grocery store. And why panic buy toilet paper anyway?

    • NorthCrystal
      5 days ago

      The big supermarkets operate JIT (just in time) delivery schedule and it’s probably not essential (read: cost effective) to change it so that more stock of given product line goes onto the lorries. Perhaps their systems to manage the above don’t allow easy changes as well.
      For example: we had a UPS shipment from Japan yesterday. Somebody in UPS Japan did not input our UPS account number into their system so the UK delivery driver wanted to charge import taxes… That should happen ‘automatically’ by direct debit. Turns out once the parcel gets shipped there’s no way for them to amend anything. I guess it’s for some sort of security aspects. But it just shows the big players operate on obsolete systems in complex environments.

  • jane
    2 days ago
    2081 sold at £10.99 gbp other listings also daily selling thousands. How is this not price gouging.
    I am trying to sell the same item for 4.99 and cant even get listing as it is for preapproved TRUSTED sellers like above. 3 of them ruling the roost and laughing all the way to the bank just now on ebay uk.

  • curtis
    17 hours ago

    Ebay is lying big time….I reported dozens of items days ago yet they still remain,Ebay wants only one thing,the profits of people selling…same thing with items that require a prescription like CPAP machine…they sell them all day long and collect the big fees…so dont believe anything Liebay is saying!!!

  • jane
    14 hours ago

    you cant report the approved seller lists once approved that’s it its your golden ticket they get to sell at what they want.

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