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Amazon sellers are price-gouging on essential stay-at-home tech

Amazon says it has been on alert for price gougers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but a review by Digital Trends found sky-high prices for work-from-home essentials like webcams, routers, and Ethernet cables — and prices for products to keep you occupied like video game consoles and treadmills are also far above normal.

The data blog ThinkNum counted spikes in the prices of routers and Ethernet cables in March and April.

Ethernet cable prices generally now match the suggested retail price, but we still found examples of cables that were suddenly twice their original cost.

Market research firm NPD Group found a 179% increase in sales for webcams over the first three weeks of March. Many webcams are sold out through Amazon directly, but third-party sellers have jacked up prices. The Logitech C920 is selling for roughly $240 — more than triple its retail price.

Thinknum Data

Another example is Internet of Things home security cameras. ThinkNum recorded a price hike in mid-March that has more or less plateaued, as well as an increase in the number sold. Examples are easy to find: The Arlo Pro 2, which tops off at $429 on the Arlo website, is selling for between $670 and $770 on Amazon.

Logitech’s Brio 4K camera — $199 on the Logitech sitehas listings for between $350 and $490.

Standing desks and monitors — two items that people may want for a hastily-assembled home office — as well as home exercise equipment have seen spikes in prices, too. Amazon price tracker site CamelCamelCamel reported rises in monitor prices and standing desk prices from third-party sellers at the end of March. Home exercise equipment like treadmills saw some similar trends.

Digital Trends previously reported that Nintendo’s popular Switch console was selling for around $500 from third-party sellers; the Switch’s list price on Nintendo’s website is $299.

An Amazon spokesperson said at the time the company was monitoring sellers for signs of price gouging, but the costs have remained high. According to ThinkNum, the price hovered above $500 over the weekend. As of Tuesday morning, the console could sell for anywhere from $476 and $570

In a blog post at the end of March, Amazon vowed to “aggressively remove bad actors and offers” and work with law enforcement to “hold price gougers accountable.”

Amazon said it had removed half a million bad offers from its stores “due to coronavirus-based price gouging.” Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on how many listings it had now taken down or whether it was monitoring certain market sectors.

As with all shopping, it pays to do some research and price comparison. Out of stock items, if available from third-party sellers, may need an even closer look.

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Maya Shwayder
I'm a multimedia journalist currently based in New England. I previously worked for DW News/Deutsche Welle as an anchor and…
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