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Some Subhuman Amazon Sellers Are Using Hurricane Irma’s Devastation to Make as Much Money as Possible

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Price gouging is illegal in most states, including Florida. Yet some companies and individuals just can’t resist the impulse to make as much money as possible off of the suffering of others. Hurricane Irma has already caused immense devastation in the Caribbean, and is now likely to hit southern Florida. As people stock up on supplies, many grocery stores are reportedly out of bottled water. And Amazon is cashing in by raising prices on essential goods.

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The company says it doesn’t engage in surge pricing. They do, however, use “Dynamic Pricing,” which is a different euphemism for the exact same thing. The site uses an algorithm to automatically increase prices when there’s high demand. But the real gougers are the third-party sellers, who are selling bottles of water for up to twenty or thirty times their usual price.

Just last week, Best Buy had to apologize for selling $42 packs of water in their Houston stores during Hurricane Harvey.

Price gouging specifically targets people in need and preys on their desperation. That’s what separates it from typical “supply and demand.” Raising prices by this much during a state of emergency is not only illegal, it’s disgracefully unethical.

Florida’s Attorney General says that as of Wednesday night, Amazon has suspended 12 third party retailers. But water isn’t the only need being exploited. The price of gas has reportedly risen dramatically at the stations that still have a supply.

As counties are starting to get evacuation notices, a lot of airlines are also raising prices on their remaining flights, in some cases by about 1000%.

The outlier here is JetBlue, which announced that they’re capping flights out of Florida at $99. They’ve also added flights and are waiving cancellation fees. Businesses are capable of displaying humanity. JetBlue is helping people in need, and in the long run, that reputation will likely earn them far more than the thousands of dollars other airlines are making a grab for.

(featured image: Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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