Amazon is under fire for reported Hurricane Irma price gouging, with 'life-sustaining necessities' selling for wildly inflated prices

Amazon is under fire for reportedly inflating prices as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma. 

With local grocery stores selling out of basics such as water and other emergency supplies, many shoppers have turned to Amazon to prepare for the Category 5 storm.

However, some people have been disturbed to find wildly inflated prices for essentials such as water on the e-commerce site. 

For example, a 24-pack of Aquafina — typically sold for less than $US6 — was priced at $US20. And, Deadspin editor Diana Moskovitz reported that a 24-pack of Nestle bottled water with expedited shipping was priced at $US179.25. 

Price gouging on essential items during emergencies is illegal in Florida, the Miami Herald reported. While Amazon is not based in Florida, the Florida Attorney General’s office told the Miami Herald that “If a business is selling an essential commodity to persons who are using it in Florida as a result of the emergency, the business may be subject to Florida’s price gouging law.”

“We do not engage in surge pricing. Amazon prices do not fluctuate by region or delivery location,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to Business Insider. “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.”

On Wednesday afternoon, an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the company had begun to take action against vendors selling water at inflated prices. 

“We are actively monitoring our website and removing offers on bottled water that substantially exceed the recent average sales price,” a spokesperson said in an email.

“Lower priced offers are quickly selling out, leaving higher priced offers from third party sellers,” the spokesperson continued. “If customers think an offer has substantially exceeded in price we encourage them to contact Amazon customer service directly and work with us so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.”

The e-commerce giant isn’t the only retailer to come under fire recently for apparently inflating prices in emergency situations. Best Buy was accused of price gouging in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, though the retailer told Business Insider that reports of stores selling cases of water for $US42 were due to a pricing “mistake.” 

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