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Amazon India, Grofers, and Flipkart respond to price gouging, scarcity of hand sanitizers amid coronavirus fears

Amazon India said it was “disappointed” that some sellers were trying to artificially inflate the prices of basic need products in a global health crisis.

Grofers has launched self branded hand sanitizers to keep up with the demand
Grofers has launched self branded hand sanitizers to keep up with the demand (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

E-commerce companies are struggling to curb the price gouging and shortage of hand sanitizers and masks on their platforms amid coronavirus outbreak that has affected more than 100,000 people around the world. Responding to the criticism, Amazon India on Monday said it is constantly monitoring the developments related to COVID-19 and will take "appropriate steps" as needed.

"We are disappointed that some sellers are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis. In line with our policy, we continue to actively monitor our marketplace and take necessary action (including removing offers) against sellers who are selling such products above the MRP, which is in violation of Indian laws" said an Amazon India spokesperson in a statement.

Amazon India, however, isn't the only e-commerce platform to face price gouging and shortage of hand sanitizers and masks. As mentioned in our previous report, Grofers, BigBasket, and Flipkart are also grappling with the same. Many people on Twitter pointed out that hand sanitizers from top brands such as Dettol, Lifebuoy, and Himalaya had completely run out. Some sellers were also found to be selling sanitizers from relatively less known brands at a price much higher than their original price. 

Albinder Dhindsa, Co-founder and CEO, Grofers said, "While we are expecting the frontline brands to be back in stock, our Own Brand - O'range Hand sanitizer will soon be made available to cater to the current demand of our customers. It has over 60% alcohol content and conforms to European efficacy standard EN 1500: 2013. Due to the higher demand, the cost of ingredients used in sanitizer is under pressure and will go up for other brands. However, Grofers Own Brand is making efforts to secure them at competitive prices to provide it to our customers at the most affordable price, like always." 

When reached out to Flipkart, the company directed us to its March 6 blog post where it has outlined preparedness for the virus outbreak.

"The Flipkart Seller Hub is continuously in touch with Flipkart sellers to promote preventative healthcare and hygiene. Our team has communicated necessary precautions in order to ensure the health and safety of our marketplace sellers and their staff amid concerns over public health during the recent global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak," the company wrote in the blog post.

"Our marketplace team has appealed to the seller community to ensure that products like masks, sanitizers, antiseptic liquids, and handwash are made available to our customers at all times at the best possible prices. They have been advised to dispatch these products on priority," it added.

BigBasket has declined to comment on the issue.

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