Sale of masks and hand sanitiser restricted on eBay to stop price gouging

EBay is restricting the sale of masks and hand sanitiser in a bid to crack down on profiteering during the coronavirus pandemic.

Only a trusted “whitelist” of vetted eBay sellers will be able to continue trading these items, the company said.

The online marketplace said it was continuing to take “aggressive action” against price gouging from a “small but growing” number of sellers.

It said it has removed more than 350,000 items relating to Covid-19 and has suspended hundreds of seller accounts.

The restrictions do not cover the sale of items such as formula milk for babies or toilet roll, both of which are being sold on the platform for inflated prices.

A spokeswoman said eBay will monitor the situation and “consider widening the ban” if appropriate.

Supermarkets have been struggling to keep shelves full of a range of essentials amid increased demand, panic-buying and stockpiling over the past weeks.

Several have imposed three-item limits on products and shrunk opening hours to help keep products available.

Rob Hattrell, eBay UK vice-president, said: “We do not allow the unfair exploitation of our customers.

“Price gouging, particularly during this period when people are worried, will not be tolerated on eBay.

“We are doing all we can to abolish this selfish behaviour that is having a wider impact across the retail landscape.”

He continued: “The reality is that unreasonably priced listings are already being blocked or removed from eBay.

“Where users are trying to circumvent our filters, they are finding that people are not buying products at their unreasonable prices. It’s not working for them.

“We will implement new measures designed to ensure only legitimate sellers are permitted on site and customers will only see fairly priced items.”