eBay is banning sales of face masks and hand sanitizers

eBay is banning sales of face masks and hand sanitizers

eBay has just issued a notice to sellers last Tuesday telling them it’s banning all listings face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. We can say that the coronavirus really is affecting eCommerce, in a bad way.


Now you might be wondering, why would eBay do that? Face masks and hand sanitizers are exactly what we need to combat the new coronavirus. Why would they ban sales of these sought-after items?

There are a few reasons as to why eBay is banning face masks being sold

First of all, you need to know that the decision comes after eBay’s marketplace was hit with price gouging, with sellers offering some items at inflated prices.

Merchants on the site have been offering hand sanitizer and wipes for three or four times their normal prices. But on Thursday, eBay began removing items.


The affected items include sales for N95 and N100 mouth masks, as well as products that mention coronavirus, COVID-19, or 2019nCOV in their titles or descriptions.

These listings violate applicable US and UK laws or regulations, eBay policies, and exhibit unfair pricing behavior for buyers. There is actually a rule that forbids sellers from profiting from “human tragedy, or suffering.”

Amazon is doing it as well!

Amazon also began combating price gouging amid more confirmed coronavirus cases. They took down more than 1 million products from sale in recent weeks over inflated prices and inaccurate claims the items could defend against the illness.

However, both companies (eBay and Amazon) are having trouble completely stamping out the problem. On eBay, you can still find hand sanitizer, wipes, and N95 masks being sold at exorbitant prices, ranging from £35 to £100 per pack.

On Amazon, many of the same items are out of stock. However, third-party merchants on the site have been offering the items at a steep markup. For instance, one seller is offering a 3-pack of 1 fluid ounce hand sanitizer for £59 when the original cost was about 6 quid.

Amazon said price gouging is a clear violation of its policies, and noted that it is illegal in some states — such as California and a few others. A company representative said it had recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of coronavirus-related listings with inflated prices.

Who’s next to ban these adverts? Facebook.

As of yesterday, Facebook has become the latest major platform to introduce a ban on the sale of surgical face masks. This is done as part of a concerted effort to prevent unscrupulous vendors from exploiting public coronavirus panic.

The blanket measure will outlaw all such advertisements posted on the social network in addition to peer-to-peer trading on Facebook Marketplace.

Facebook’s director of product management Rob Leathern said: “We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring Covid-19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency. We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.”

Facebook’s move follows the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority last week censuring ‘alarmist’ adverts promoting face masks.

What’s next?

Well, given that face masks and hand sanitizers are being bought out everywhere, this can be bad for people who actually need them.


Besides price gouging, there’s another problem with consumers stockpiling masks: it can lead to shortages for people who actually need them. Health care professionals need masks to avoid infecting patients during surgery and to prevent infected patients from infecting those around them. Some construction workers also need masks to protect themselves from fumes and dust.


At the same time, experts say that wearing a mask provides little benefit to a healthy person hoping to avoid infections. A mask can prevent an infected person from passing on a virus to others via coughs or sneezes. But experts say that wearing a mask doesn’t do much to prevent viruses from being transmitted in the other direction.

To sum up

It’s great to see these tech giants, such as eBay, Amazon and Facebook joining forces to stop price gauging in a moments of human tragedy and suffering.

And as we’re previously mentioned, even though price gauging is bad, stockpiling on these products is even worse. This is because there are people who legitimately need those products. And they are now having difficulties in finding them in stock anywhere.

Subjectively speaking, it’s quite sad seeing e-commerce sellers taking advantage of this potentially tragic situation and inflating their prices by 5 to 10 times. We all love to make a quick buck, but maybe now it isn’t the best time to do it, given the circumstances.


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