CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Amazon class action price gouging lawsuit, CA attorney general urges FCC, telecom companies more consumer protection, Americans want another stimulus check

ByMichael Finney and Simone Chavoor, Justin Mendoza KGO logo
Thursday, April 23, 2020
CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Amazon lawsuit, CA Atty. Gen.demands more consumer protection, Americans want another stimulus check
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In this edition of Consumer Catch-Up, two consumers are suing Amazon over alleged price gouging, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wants more protection from FCC, telecom companies, and survey says Americans want another stimulus check

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California consumers file lawsuit over alleged price gouging on Amazon

California consumers are filing a class action lawsuit against Amazon over alleged price-gouging.

The Hagens Berman law firm filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two consumers, Mary McQueen of Oakland and Victoria Ballinger of Selma, CA. The two women say they relied on Amazon during the coronavirus pandemic for goods they could not safely get in brick-and-mortar stores, but were confronted with inflated prices set by the online retailer.

The suit called the alleged price-gouging "unconscionable," and listed examples of products and their prices. The suit claims that face masks saw increases "exceeding 500 percent, from less than $20 to $120," and cold remedies increased "up to 674 percent, from $4.65 to $35.99," among others.

You can read more on the lawsuit here.

Amazon has previously vowed to fight price-gouging among third-party sellers on its e-commerce platform, removing over 1 million products and banning sellers who violate their pricing policies.

Amazon declined to comment on the lawsuit, but in a statement to 7 On Your Side, an Amazon spokesperson writes:

"There is no place for price gouging on Amazon and that's why our teams are monitoring our store 24/7 and have already removed hundreds of thousands of offers for attempted price gouging. We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to take advantage of this global health crisis and, in addition to removing these offers, we have terminated more than 6,0000 accounts and working directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors and hold them accountable. We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies."

California AG urges FCC, telecom companies to commit to expanded assistance for customers

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday called for the Federal Communications Commission and telecom companies to "make further commitments to protect consumers during the COVID-19 public health emergency."

Attorney General Becerra was joined by a coalition of 27 attorneys general. In a letter sent to the FCC, they noted that more Californians are relying on telecommunications for work, school, and vital information due to shelter-in-place orders. Back in March, the FCC and multiple telecom companies pledged to assist their customers during this time of crisis as part of the FCC's "Keep Americans Connected" pledge.

Now, Attorney General Becerra is urging the telecom companies to expand their commitments. The companies had previously promised 60 days of relief, including no terminations for customers unable to pay their bills, waived late fees, and opened Wi-Fi hotspots. The attorneys general are currently asking for an expansion of those protections to 90 days, as well as creating reasonable payment plans for their customers behind on payments, reconnecting previously disconnected customers, and raising data caps.

"Americans are facing unanticipated financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency," said Attorney General Becerra. "For many families, internet access and cell phones serve as an indispensable lifeline to family, work, healthcare services, schooling, news, and so much more. Today we ask the FCC to join our coalition's efforts to protect consumers' access to essential telecommunications services."

84% of Americans want another stimulus check, survey says

84% of Americans want another wave of government issued stimulus checks, according to a new survey by WalletHub.

WalletHub conducted "a nationally representative online survey of over 350 respondents." In their results, WalletHub found that most people want another stimulus check, and that nearly 160 million Americans are "less than three months away from running out of money."

WalletHub also asked about people's attitudes regarding who should receive assistance. More than half (56%) said that unemployment should match and not exceed the income someone was making prior to their job loss, and 70% said that businesses that have not experienced any revenue loss should receive government help. Millennials were also 25% more likely than their Boomer counterparts to say that stimulus checks should only go to those who have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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