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Amazon Shoppers Complain of Price-Gouging During Hurricane Irma

Sep 07, 2017

As Hurricane Irma barrels down on Florida, residents are complaining that some Amazon sellers are jacking up the price of emergency supplies prior to the disaster.

In response to the alleged price gouging, people are taking to social media outlets in order to post pictures of overpriced water, and to scold Amazon.

One Twitter user, for instance, posted this screenshot of a single gallon of water being sold for $21.95. The seller is a company called "Avalanche Brands" that relies on Amazon to fulfill the order:

Another Florida resident claimed Amazon sellers are over-charging for phone chargers:

All this has prompted some residents to use Twitter to call on local newspapers and Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate price-gouging taking place on Amazon:

As media reports of overpriced water and phone chargers began to surface, Amazon initially denied any price spikes were taking place.

"We do not engage in surge pricing," a spokeswoman told CBS on Wednesday. "Amazon prices do not fluctuate by region or delivery location. Prices on bottled water from Amazon, and third-party sellers that are doing their own fulfillment to customers, have not widely fluctuated in the last month."

By Thursday, however, Amazon acknowledged that gouging may be taking place, telling the Independent that shopper should contact customer service if they encounter unusual price surges.

Meanwhile, another journalist has reported that Amazon has begun punishing merchants who have been jacking up prices:

Complaints are still coming in, however. One user posted a picture this morning of a case of Dasani water selling for around $21. A search for the same case of water in New York displays a price of $6.59.

The political response on Thursday also appeared to be increasing as Bondi said her office was investigating hundreds of complaints, and that she was "going after" those who exploit the crisis.

Not everyone, however, is upset about the alleged price gouging, and instead framing it as an example of market economics:

In response to questions from Fortune about how Amazon is addressing price gouging by third parties, a spokesperson provided the following comment:

“To protect customers, we’ve removed several offers from third-party sellers that exceeded the recent average sales price.”

This story was updated at 11:45am ET to include Amazon's statement.

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