CONSUMER CATCH-UP: U.S. Senator calls on Amazon to do more about price-gouging, how customers can report suspected price gouging, and Etsy removes all coronavirus related products

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Senator calls on Amazon to do more about price gouging sellers on its site

A United States senator is calling on Amazon to do more about price-gouging on its platform.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saying Amazon needs to clean up its third-party Marketplace, citing instances of face masks and hand sanitizer going for prices far above regular market rates. Sen. Markey acknowledged that Amazon has been cracking down on third-party sellers who violate Amazon's policies, but called them a "first step," noting there were "continued reports of price gouging and a lack of transparency" that "have left consumers exposed to unfair trade practices."

"Internet-based retailers such as have a particular responsibility to guard against price gouging in current circumstances as consumers -- who are finding the shelves of local brick-and-mortar stores bare, and who may wish to avoid venturing into crowded stores and shopping malls -- turn to the internet," he continued.

Sen. Markey concluded his letter by calling on Amazon to answer questions about its policies and enforcement, requesting a response by March 18.

As public officials call for more action, what can regular consumers do if they see suspected price gouging?

According to Amazon, customers who find listings they suspect are engaged in price gouging are urged to reach out to Amazon's customer service. They can then tell the customer service representative about the product; the customer service rep will get the complaint to the right team to follow up.

Etsy removes coronavirus-related products from its online marketplace

Amazon isn't the only online marketplace facing issues stemming from coronavirus fears.

According to Buzzfeed, Etsy has removed all items mentioning the "coronavirus" or "COVID-19." Etsy is an online platform for sellers whose products are "handcrafted, vintage, custom, or unique."

Etsy cited safety reasons for taking down the product listings. "In order to keep our marketplace safe, our team is prioritizing taking down any listings that claim to protect against coronavirus," an Etsy spokesperson said. "In the past few days alone, we have removed thousands of items that make such medical claims. We have also taken down hundreds of items that attempt to exploit the developing coronavirus situation. Our teams continue to automatically and manually review and remove items that violate our policies."

However, sellers are complaining that all products tagged with "coronavirus" are being removed or hidden, not just those making false health claims. One seller told BuzzFeed that her crocheted models of the actual virus, meant to assist with science education, were removed from search results.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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