eBay urged to clamp down on coronavirus profiteering

eBay toilet rolls

EBay has been urged to clamp down on people profiteering from the coronavirus outbreak as sellers rake in hundreds of pounds from vastly inflated prices on household goods.

One UK-based seller who had pocketed £1,000 from selling packs of Andrex toilet roll at £50 each – more than double the retail price – on eBay since Saturday morning.

Another had sold a 72-pack of toilet roll for £99.90, quadruple its regular price of £27, while the same product was advertised by another seller for £84.99.

This seller, apparently based in the Midlands, appeared to have bulk-bought dozens of cleaning products and uploaded them to eBay at huge mark-ups over the weekend as panic-buying swept UK supermarkets.

Most of these products were removed from sale hours after the Guardian contacted the seller and eBay on Monday morning.

Darren Jones, a Labour MP and co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on technology, wrote to eBay on Monday to demand it stop people from making profits from the pandemic – which he said should be made illegal.

On the findings, he said: “In a time of pandemic there’s an expectation that the British people pull together and act in good faith. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen the tendency for some to act in bad faith, taking advantage of Covid-19.

“I’m sure most people would agree that these sellers of stockpiled goods should be ashamed of themselves. I would like their actions to be made illegal, with consequences for their actions.”

Other items being sold at vastly inflated prices on eBay included Wilko antibacterial wipes for £10.95, more than 10 times the retail price, and Regina nine-pack toilet rolls (RRP £2.49) for up to £12.99.

An auction for a 72-pack of Andrex toilet roll had reached £51 on eBay by Monday morning – nearly double its retail price of £27 – with more than five hours of bidding still to go.