Tennessee’s attorney general is investigating two men who have nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer stockpiled in their home outside Chattanooga.
Matt and Noah Colvin were the subjects of a New York Times story over the weekend, which reported that they drove around rural Tennessee amassing hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, then sold bottles on Amazon for between $8 and $70. The online shopping company later removed their listings, along with hundreds of thousands of others.
In response to the story, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery ordered the Colvins to stop buying and selling medical goods as his office investigates whether they violated price-gouging laws. The current state of emergency in Tennessee prohibits vendors from charging too much during a crisis.
“We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it,” Slatery said in a statement.
“During this pandemic, we ask that you report suspicious activity to the Division of Consumer Affairs and refrain from threatening or hostile communication with individuals or businesses you may suspect are price gouging. Our team will review complaints closely and we are prepared to act to protect Tennesseans.”
The New York Times reports companies like Amazon and eBay are also responding to public pressure to crack down on suspected price gouging.
After the measures last week, Amazon went further on Wednesday, restricting sales of any coronavirus-related products from certain sellers.
“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal,” Amazon said in a statement. “In addition to terminating these third party accounts, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors.”
After the story was published, Matt Colvin told The New York Times he would explore donating the rest of the hand sanitizer. His personal website now says they’ll be donated to “a local church and first responders.”