Coronavirus: Some traders selling hand gel for £120 on Amazon

Some traders on Amazon and eBay are being accused of profiteering from coronavirus fears by selling bottles of hand sanitiser at hugely inflated prices.

One seller on Amazon was selling a 600ml bottle of hand gel for £99.98 - and another was charging £120 for the same product.

Reviewers have reacted with anger - describing the pricing as "truly disgusting" and accusing companies of profiteering from coronavirus concerns.

Pharmacies have reported a rising demand for hand sanitiser and some consumers have turned to the internet to plug the gap.

Shop shelves across the country have been cleared of soap, painkillers and other essentials - while over in Australia, footage has shown shoppers brawling over toilet paper as the number of COVID-19 cases across the globe continues to rise.

One seller on eBay on Saturday was advertising 100ml of "HYGIENIC 99% ANTI BACTERIAL ALCOHOL HAND SANITISER" for £16.99.

A high street chemist such as Boots would often charge about £1.80 to £2.20 for a 100ml bottle of hand sanitiser from named brands like Milton and Dettol.

Another eBay seller was offering two 50ml bottles of a similar product for £12.95.

Third-party merchants on Amazon were selling similar products with a significant mark-up compared with the price normally charged by Boots and other high street chemists.

One was selling 50ml of "Antibacterial Hygienic Gel, Quick-drying Sanitiser" for £6.89, including free delivery.

Also on Amazon, a six pack of Carex Derma Care handwash was advertised at 600% of the retail price charged by another website.

On Thursday, the Competition and Markets Authority said it was monitoring prices and would look at evidence that companies were breaking competition and consumer protection laws.

There is no evidence that any of those that profiteer from the shortages of hand sanitisers are breaking any laws, but there have been concerns about the impact that supply problems might have during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if it becomes a global pandemic.

Britain's environment secretary George Eustice said on Friday he had been reassured by UK supermarkets that they had contingency plans in place to prevent food and goods shortages linked to coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in France, contagion fears have led to shortages of face masks and sanitising gels.

French president Emmanuel Macron has responded by saying his government is requisitioning all current and future stocks of protective masks.

So far, there are signs that prices of masks on the UK versions of eBay and Amazon have risen, but not by the same extent as hand gel.

Last weekend, the average price being charged for 50 surgical masks on Amazon was around £35.

On Saturday, prices varied significantly with some packs of 50 being offered for £25 and others for nearly £50.

Both Amazon and eBay have acknowledged that profiteers are using their sites and have been taking down some listings.

Amazon told Sky News: "There is no place for price gouging on Amazon."

It added: "We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers.

"We proactively remove offers that violate our policies."

Meanwhile, eBay said it was "constantly updating" measures to control listings.

A spokesman told Sky News: "eBay does not tolerate sellers exploiting other users.

"We have filters in place designed to prevent the listing of items at unreasonably inflated prices. We are constantly updating our measures to control listings as the situation evolves.

"Our international security teams are working around the clock to help safeguard eBay and its 1.4 billion global listings.

"Where sellers are attempting to circumvent our filters, we are actively removing listings that breach our policies," it added.

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