A class action lawsuit accusing Amazon of marking up necessary household items by more than 1,000 percent has been expanded to include a nationwide class of shoppers who allegedly paid more during the coronavirus pandemic.
Filed in Washington federal court last week, lead plaintiffs Alvin Greenberg, Michael Steinberg, and Julie Hanson say that online retail giant Amazon took advantage of consumers following “stay at home” orders and public health guidance. The plaintiffs accuse Amazon of “leveraging a pandemic to profit unfairly off consumers in real need” with “flagrantly unlawful” price increases.
“While Amazon has provided needed services during the pandemic, this does not place it above the law,” states the class action lawsuit. “Like every seller, Amazon has a legal obligation under Washington (and other) laws to ensure that its pricing does not exploit consumers facing emergency conditions.”
The class action lawsuit points to several examples of steep price increases for household items documented on Amazon from before the start of the pandemic until after COVID-19 was declared a nationwide public health emergency:
- Face Masks: Increases up to 1,800 percent, from $4.21 to $79.99
- Disinfectant Wipes: Increases of more than 745 percent, from $20.71 to $174.96
- Cold Remedies: Increases up to 1,523 percent, from $4.65 to $79.00
- Toilet Paper: Increases up to 1,044 percent, from $17.48 to $200
The plaintiffs claim that price gouging occurred on Amazon for food staples as well:
- Black Beans: Increases up to 521 percent, from $3.54 to $21.99
- Baking Soda: Increases of more than 1,500 percent, from $3.08 to $50.00
- Flour: Increases up to 400 percent, from $22.00 to $110.00
- Yeast: Increases up to 625 percent, from $7.02 to $50.95
The class action lawsuit points out that Amazon sales broke records in some categories during the COVID-19 pandemic, skyrocketing the company’s profits. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, saw his personal wealth dramatically increase by $205 million per day during 2020.
Amazon’s exponential profits during the pandemic stand in contrast to the majority of American consumers facing emergency financial and health conditions during the same time. The plaintiffs say Amazon’s price gouging during 2020 was not only immoral, it was illegal.
The class action lawsuit alleges that Amazon violated Washington’s anti-price gouging laws. In addition, the plaintiffs say that the international retailer could have better prepared for and dealt with price gouging on its website. Amazon’s failure to do so amounts to negligence and unjust enrichment, they say.
The plaintiffs want to represent other consumers nationwide who paid higher prices on Amazon.com during the pandemic. They are seeking damages and a court order putting a stop to the price gouging.
This is not the first class action lawsuit filed that accuses Amazon of price gouging. The company is fighting a price gouging class action lawsuit in California. In addition, a Florida mother claims Amazon charged her $99 for 36 rolls of toilet paper and $199 for two bottles of hand sanitizer.
Did you pay more during COVID-19? Were you a victim of price gouging on Amazon? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
The plaintiffs are represented by Ben Harrington, Benjamin Siegel, and Steve W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.
The Amazon Price Gouging Class Action Lawsuit is Greenberg, et al. v. Amazon.com, Inc., Case No. 2:21-cv-00898 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle.
Read About More Class Action Lawsuits & Class Action Settlements:
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- Amazon Class Action Alleges Coronavirus Price Gouging
- Hidden Fees Class Action Lawsuit Investigation
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