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Confronting online sellers: Gouging or opportunity?

Necessities off shelves and online for more money
Posted: 9:30 PM, Mar 18, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-19 10:08:56-04
Hand sanitizer

How far will you go, to get what you need for your family?

With stores shelves empty of necessities, would you pay 500 or 1000% more to get items on a growing resale market?

Some call it gouging. Others call it an opportunity.

Craig says he wasn't gouging. He was just trying to make a little extra money.

Craig is a seller on OfferUp. We found his ad for a Purell Sanitizer 33-ounce container.

Online at Walmart and Walgreens it cost less than $7, when you can find it.

But Craig could get it to us right now for $40 a bottle. I told him I'd take two bottles.

He wants to meet me at a Scottsdale location where he's selling two bottles to someone else.

Craig says he has thousands of people interested. So we met him at the location, not to buy, but to ask why he would charge so much.

We had a camera and microphone ready. I asked him what he'd say to people who think he's gouging them right now.

He said he didn't know and that he wasn't gouging. Craig says he initially bought the bottles for his family and that he was just selling the extras.

Still I ask, why charge $40? Why couldn't he charge just over the real price or better yet, give them to people in need?

He says he spent $25 on the bottles himself.

Right now in Arizona, there are no gouging laws. There's no limit to what can be charged during this time, for sanitizers, cleansers and basics like toilet paper.

They are so hard to find right now and people are desperate to get them.

Craig says he didn't expect how his morning was going.

I didn't expect how the conversation turned.

Maybe it was the camera in his face, but Craig became more contrite.

I asked what is he going to do with the bottles now.

I told him any adult living center would be very appreciative to get those bottles.

He said he'd look into it and we left.

But just a few hours later, I got an email from Craig.

It says in part, "I just donated the remaining two bottles to the Villa Ocotillo Assisted Living Center in Scottsdale. I even let them know the circumstances surrounding why I was there... full disclosure... While I didn't anticipate my morning going as it did, I am choosing to use this incident as a reminder that compassion is more important than cash now more than ever."

Craig says he also donated the $45 he gained to the Salvation Army.

We checked on that living center donation.

And they sent us a picture. It shows the two bottles of hand sanitizer on their counter with a note thanking Craig.

That assisted living facility tells us they are well supplied and thankful.

But they say many there are lonely, not being able to see family in person.

And they say like all senior care facilities, notes or cards from the community can brighten their days.

We'll check to make sure Craig's listing is no longer on OfferUp.

Do you see any gouging going on?

Let me know by email at joe@abc15.com.

You can also tell me on the Let Joe Know Facebook page.