Disasters tend to reveal who we truly are, and unfortunately, it sometimes reveals just how greedy we are. Fortunately, though, there’s a surprising hero in the war against price-gougers in the path of a major natural disaster: Amazon.
Unsurprisingly, as it became clear Irma was going to hit Florida, people quickly stocked up on necessities like water. Stores quickly ran out, so people turned to Amazon, and were surprised by what third-party sellers were demanding. A case of water cost up to $180, depending on which seller you went through on the site. So, while hardly noted for its altruistic behavior towards competitors, reports are beginning to emerge on the ground that Amazon is shutting down price gougers.
Part of this is simple legal compliance. Florida has laws against price-gouging during an emergency, and they apply if you do business in Florida, whether you’re based out of the state or elsewhere. So anybody thinking they’re getting away with something by working from, say, Georgia, isn’t. But also, it’s about simple decency in the face of a disaster. Irma has already destroyed Barbuda, and while it narrowly missed landfall in Puerto Rico, it still caused enormous damage. We’re all going to have to work together to help, so it’s nice to see Amazon setting some ground rules before the storm hits.