Manny Ranga and Violeta Perez a Vancouver, British Columbia couple admit price gouging disinfectant wipes on Amazon following coronavirus panic buying.
A Canada couple have become widely rebuked after admitting having made over $72K in less than a month buying massive quantities of Lysol disinfectant wipes and then reselling them at exorbitant rates on Amazon in order to take advantage of panic buyer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Manny Ranga, 38, and wife Violeta Perez, 37, from Vancouver, Canada bought boxes of the wipes from their local Costco only to resell them upwards of four times the cost of purchase
A package of wipes which usually retails for around $14.50 was being sold online for in the couple’s Amazon marketplace store for $64.50.
While some would decry the couple as behaving opportunistically in the face of a public health crises- many argue the pair are simply exercising their economic rights to meet supply and demand – even at a handsome profit to themselves.
‘We’ve got to pay the bills’
The couple got the idea for their seemingly price gouging scheme while they were preparing for the the outbreak themselves when someone stopped them in the parking lot and offered to pay double for their purchases.
‘It’s a big opportunity with all these products,’ Ranga told via the Toronto Star. ‘I’ve got to pay the bills. With a regular job, I won’t be making this money… I know it won’t last forever.’
‘Everything we do, we’re in the moment,’ Perez said. ‘We’re hustlers.’
The pair told of using a truck to travel around their neighborhood in order to visit several Costco locations and stock up on supplies including wipes and hand sanitizer.
One Costco threatened to limit how much the couple could purchase only for Perez to argue that it was ‘not fair’ because other people were also ripping off other people by artificially boosting prices.
Although the couple are currently not selling anything via Amazon, one review stated: ‘seller cancelled my order the day before delivery only to put it back online and jack up the price.’
‘It’s just a business I’m doing right now,’ Ranga to CTV, adding that he had been selling the items for ‘probably like three or four weeks.’
‘The government’s not helping us pay our bills,’ he said. ‘Kids can’t go to school, my kids go to private school. I pay $20,000 a year on private school and they’re not returning it.
‘You know what’s making, money? The shipping companies,’ he added. ‘Amazon’s making money on it too.’
Exploiting public health crises for private profit?
Amazon has said it has policies in place to prevent opportunistic price gouging schemes and along with eBay has begun cracking down on such listings.
‘There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,’ a statement from the company reads.
‘We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers. We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.’
In a news conference on Friday, Premier John Horgan responded to news of Manny Ranga and Violeta Perez’s ‘price gouging’ (what many would also argue is simply an example of capitalism at play) as ‘profoundly disappointing’ while calling for a “measured response” to the outbreak.
‘I think that’s just offensive and most people would bristle on that,’ he told via CTV. ‘Let’s be thoughtful and reflect on the consequences of people buying everything. What does that mean for the next person in line that needs that product?’
Ranga and Perez have since told of ceasing to sell – at least for now.