He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell Them

Amazon cracked down on coronavirus price gouging. Now, while the rest of the world searches, some sellers are holding stockpiles of sanitizer and masks.

Comments: 180

  1. at the gut level, most people would agree what the guy did was wrong and unethical. I argue it should also be ileagal. if I point a gun at someone's head and forcing him to buy whatever from me, that must be a crime. what the guy did is similar, he is artificially create a situation where desperate people have no choice but to buy from him.

  2. He thinks it's his right to make a fast buck. That's America. That's capitalism. And were a loved one to be struck down and die, he'd still be scratching his head wondering how to turn a profit with his stash.

  3. @Niobe We’re a loved one to be struck down he’d be looking for someone else to blame.

  4. “Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.” Hannah Arendt on Adolf Eichmann who, incidentally, had been tasked by the SS with the logistics and facilitation of transporting people to their deaths.

  5. @Sam "Evil comes from a failure to think." Willful and malign ignorance are cornerstones of capitalism and conservative ideology.

  6. I wonder if greedy selfish people like the Colvin brothers realise that in depriving others of these essentials during a pandemic, they are actually putting their own lives, that of their families and that of their immediate community at much greater risk. The person that infected you with covid-19 might have never caught it if they had the hand sanitiser you’ve stockpiled in your basement. We are all in this together.

  7. Many readers here found it difficult to believe Mr. Colvin truly cannot see his behavior as problematic. They have difficulty believing his behavior and lack of awareness is real. In psychology, it is explained by the concept of "empathy". In every group and society, there are a small percentage who lack empathy. Such people are truly unable to see how this could be wrong. Their brains are wired somehow differently, so they either cannot see or ignore the possible harm to others. People who lack empathy oftentimes consider their own needs as more important than that of others/their victims. People with this condition are considered problematic, and oftentimes are involved in scandalous, illegal and even ghastly behaviors. People such as Bernie Madoff, Ted Bundy, and Adolf Hitler are believed to have low/no empathy (along with possessing other co-morbidities). Incidentally, if psychologists are asked privately, many will also include Donald trump in this group. While Mr. Colvin did nothing as bad as those mentioned above, successes he saw would have encouraged him to "graduate" to greater behaviors, potentially harming more people. They seek rewards for themselves, even if their "win" greatly hurts others. While it is believed empathy cannot be taught to someone lacking it, those lacking it can learn to mimic empathy to hide themselves better. Such people need support and encouragement from others to seek counseling, with little explanation to them of what is troubling.

  8. There is no evidence that this kind of behavior can be fixed with therapy.

  9. Confiscate. Sue. Slap a huge fine. Make sure this never happens again.

  10. What kind of human works to profit in this manner ... 2$ hand sanitizer for 20$ and up while people are desperately trying to have just a few bottles for their own family ... Sure many corporations (infuriating too) ... yes I understand this happens endlessly ... but this ... this is so gross ... an individual with any sort of heart can see the difference ... when they buy every desperately needed product off shelves where we should be able to get something as simple as hand sanitizer... I'm furious ... Meanwhile... remember... any alcohol 60 percent or higher in alcohol ... say Everclear ... etc ... might not smell great but will work too ... and keeps small businesses in another industry up and running.

  11. In earlier times, the goods of profiteers were confiscated and the profiteers themselves were shot.

  12. @EBM I wouldn't advocate such an extreme today, but if your information is accurate, what it strongly suggests is that the vital human qualities that have supported Community, as a value, for eons are still vital in modern America. In place of shooting profiteers, I'd settle for tossing them in prison and throwing away the key for, say, 5 years. Per criminal count.

  13. Legal or not, it's a sign of greedy self-concern, basically antisocial behavior.

  14. Let me summarized this story. Self centered cretin is taking advantage of a deplorable situation by hoarding essential products thereby creating a scarcity in which desperate people are forced to pay his outrageous markups of these essential products. Sounds like the very quality that warms the heart of Trump in searching for "best and brightest" in his administration in his second term. Let's disabuse this notion on election night.

  15. I started shopping for hand sanitizer today, and found it virtually impossible to buy in the city or online.  Then, an employee at Home Depot told me that customers had recently picked up sanitizer at Harmon's on Sixth Ave.      How recently? Twenty minutes ago.      Was this even possible?  There like a shot, I found myself shocked. Usually a product in high demand, such as supermarket milk, is placed in back so a customer has to pass the entire line up of goods (and hopefully buy some) before getting to it. Harmon's, instead, had the hand sanitizer on display as soon as I walked through the door. OK, so they would gouge on the price, right? Nope.  The price was about $11.99 for 300 disinfectant wipes.  And yes, I checked.  These wipes had the alcohol content needed to kill the virus. And after three or four minutes in line, I got to a cashier who was smiling, friendly, not harassed.  So was it pure luck?  Leaving the store, I wondered about Harmon's business model.  I had never before been there.  But I will return to buy their other merchandise at what I know will be a fair price.   And even if I pay a few nickles or dimes more I will - because they were there - and fair - when this first time customer needed them most. A good lesson in how to run an ethical, profitable business.

  16. He can't sell them? Then I hope he kept his receipts so he can return them to the stores where he bought them. He won't lose money and other people can have clean hands, it's win-win.

  17. For those saying that pharma etc do the same thing... it's not, yes what they do is terrible but it is more regulated by market forces because there are some equal players involved like PBMs, insurance negotiaters, and non profits that attempt to dole out supply for those in need. Again, yes there are horrible lopsided and criminal leaning things that happen in that industry but still not the same. What this guy and the others are doing are creating a public hazard not simply using supply and demand economics. Also there was and is nothing stopping him from making a normal profit without gauging. Another thing he fails to mention is that he's on Amazons platform and they rightfully make the rules of engagement. He can simply pull over the side of the road and sell if he thinks the market will bear it and he can deal with his applicable state permits and laws. So in short this story is about a delusional self centered citizen who thinks the American dream is obtained solely by deceptive practices, a small part of that is not his fault he's simply observing the big corporations around him.

  18. Making hand sanitizer is not a 'rocket science'. World Health Organization (WHO) has formulations for this: Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations. It may be challenging to make this formulation at the time of panic and pandemic. With the help of local governments, hospitals and pharmacists, hand sanitizers can be made locally. Urgently, the governments must come up stringent legislation so that no unscrupulous elements hoard raw materials of this hand sanitizer. At the time of the pandemic, human beings must help one another.

  19. The Tennessee boys (because they aren’t men) could donate all that about 1 1/2 up the road to Putnam County where a tornado took 19 lives. The hospital in Cookeville could use the masks - they announced no patient affected by the tornado would receive a bill (they are only billing the insurance). That’s what the volunteer state means and what it is all about. Be a volunteer and donate!

  20. He should be stripped of a percentage of his profits and forced to partially refund the buyers. I don’t have a problem with making a profit, but they should not have been allowed to do it in this instance when people need these items to stay healthy and potentially prevent a death. These and similar sellers should be permanently banned from selling on Amazon.

  21. Local med. workers and hospitals and their staff should simply go to his house and remove the supplies and distribute them to hospitals , nursing homes and assisted living homes.

  22. There are plenty of problems associated with the products sold in the shops and even online such as mineral water bottles, hand sanitizers and face masks. No one knows the quality of goods purchased. In addition to the quality of goods, panic buying and price gouging has caused countless problems to the other buyers, who are deprived of buying the goods that are required to meet their immediate needs. Panic buying and stocking causes huge problems for others since shelves get emptied in no time. Further the panic buyers end up paying huge credit card bills for no reason. In my opinion price gouging is far worse than robbing dead that too when people are afraid of an epidemic. I have read a few comments that justify this sort of exploitation by saying that it’s nothing wrong when there are people available to buy the goods at whatever cost. Some people have even suggested that Amazon and other companies should be dragged to courts for preventing usurping giving examples of what big companies are doing. There is a pandemic going on everywhere. It’s at least individual moral responsibility not to exploit fellow human beings. Every customer should at least get a minimum quota of goods that are required to cope with the difficult situation but unfortunately there are always people in all parts of the world, who see golden opportunity to exploit. Very sad state of affairs indeed.

  23. I guess that because Florida is prone to hurricanes, the stores are far more used to runs on them for certain products. All of my local grocery stores, Publix, as well as Target limited buyers to 2 of these products a couple of weeks ago. They are now totally sold out and unless you get there very early they sell out again by 8. These guys would be breaking Florida law by hoarding and price gouging. As it should be.

  24. @Jennifer "As it should be" indeed, Jennifer, but it should go further: Price-gouging during a public health crisis should be a federal felony punishable with a minimum prison sentence. It should't be left up to individual states to punish and deter people like this low-life, who put others' lives at risk. Heaven can wait to punish this type of person; I won't be happy till they are punished right here on earth, in every state and territory of America.

  25. There is still a market for his product. He may just have to put a little more effort into it. Yard sale, Flea market etc. Maybe he could just list his products at a price that isn't gouging the consumer. He already made $2400.00 on hand sanitizer, and better than 80k on the pandemic packs. The demand is there just don't be so greedy.

  26. @Patrick Well, other people are price gouging for masks on Craigslist and I see no way to contact Craiglist about it.

  27. @Patrick -- but his wife needs another pair of trendy jeans with holes!

  28. @Patrick -- This guy is not guilty of mere greed. He is guilty of endangering human lives.

  29. I think it should also be pointed out that stores are allowed to limit supplies of goods to a single customer. Had they done this, it would have at least made more difficult for the price gougers to buy them all out.

  30. I’m all for making money and supporting a family selling everything but the bagel seasoning from trader joes, but when it comes to essential food items and safety equipment I feel like it’s a step too far. Donate the entire lot to a hospital to hand out and claim the loss on your taxes. Join a neighbourhood group app and let people shop from your garage. That’s the only morally right thing to do.

  31. This happens every time there is some calamity: bottled water and generators after a hurricane, roofing supplies after a tornado, and now hand sanitizer and face masks in a pandemic. And we often punish people who try to profit from the inevitable shortages, even though we generally also resist price controls and direct government allocation. And the result is that this guy has a lot of very valuable, potentially life-saving goods, sitting in his garage; how is that worse than just letting him sell it all at whatever price the market will bear?

  32. I assumed when I read this article that readers would condemn this guy and his brother for buying up scarce resources in the middle of a worldwide epidemic and then trying to profit handsomely for doing so while others, who really need those resources, go without. Then I read some of the comments, and I am at a loss to explain or understand people who want to defend these people. Doctors and nurses, trying to care for desperately sick people, are at risk because they are having to reuse masks because they cannot find supplies to meet the need. In Italy, doctors are having to decide who lives and who dies because their hospitals are overwhelmed. That may happen here too. Ordinary people are doing their best to protect themselves and their families by following instructions to wipe down surfaces, but they cannot find the products they need to do that. And, in the meantime, the Colvins have bought up those products and decided to sell them for whatever they could get out of greed. I am heartsick about them, but even more so about those readers who see nothing wrong with trying to make a buck out of what looks like a massive human tragedy.

  33. We are being told by 'trusted' national advisors that there are certain things we should be 'stocking up on'. If the entire nation starts stocking up on ANYTHING, that will disrupt the set/normal supply chain and shortages will inevitably ensue, likely causing greater runs on the goods so that late comers will have naught. Now how does that make sense?

  34. And yet another example of what un-fettered Capitalism looks like. While the article is examining one individuals actions that will/can impact the health of others, we all know that there is unequal access to health care. Bernie Sander's platform is looking good about now.

  35. I wonder. Are these purchases and sales tracked and recorded? Do they actually end up in some kind of financial statement, a tax return?

  36. It's absolutely appalling when someone does something like this to profit off of the hardships and fears of others. This guy may not be different from corporate profiteers, but he also should know better and have a conscience, at the very least. I agree with Ellen V's suggestions, but they won't be possible. Still, someone or some people should buy this guy's supplies at the normal, pre-hysteria prices and distribute them to medical facilities and other places in need.

  37. Social responsibility in America is not common, unfortunately, and the story about the Clovins makes the point. However, there are many companies that operate with the same mentality. Social Darwinism is the prevalent mentality used for making business decisions. Believe that is one reason a social democrat like Bernie Sanders is so appealing for many voters.

  38. I was willing to be vaguely sympathetic until I saw they were selling them for over 10X. I'm willing to pay 2-3X plus fair shipping but that's just unconscionable. I'm glad they're getting their just desserts and hopefully the actions of eBay and Amazon will dissuade future re-sellers from cleaning out cities for their own self gain.

  39. As a mom of three, who has been looking for hand sanitizer for days, I am appalled to read this story. The communities where they bought the products no longer have access to these items and the folks who want to buy these products online no longer can. It is unconscionable that folks want to profit during a pandemic. I applaud Amazon for stepping up in this situation.

  40. What is so bad about what these brothers did? This is just democratization of what big pharmaceutical companies and hospitals do to unfortunate Americans every day with support of both political parties. 5-10x price jacking is common for the uninsured or emergency hospital stays.

  41. @Jennifer Soap and water is better than most hand sanitizers. Unless the alcohol content is 60% or more, it's ineffective. I found a friend of mine online talking about the great botanical hand sanitizer she got at Sprouts. There's no alcohol and from what all my RN friends tell me it's as uselss as lotion. Soap and water, on the other hand, is VERY effective if use properly. So instead of lamenting the lack of sanitizer, get the word out and teach your kids and your friends to wash their hands many times during the day, but especially before they eat and before they go to sleep.

  42. Hand sanitizer. Wipes? In 50 years I never purchased or really seen a need for these items. Yes, my home and belongings are clean. Try warm soapy water and a cloth. My family nor I have ever had habitual issues due to germs. Use very inexpensive isopropyl alcohol if it makes you feel better. Hand sanitizer and wipes are not necessary.

  43. @Royalfreddy -- while in the home, soap and water. But if you are out on the road, this is when wipes and hand-sanitizer come in handy. We can't find a hand-sanitizer to place into each of the cars so for now we use rubbing alcohol. Have ordered hand-sanitizer from Amazon but it is backordered and not available to us until late April.

  44. My dad was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I have searched high and low for hand sanitizer. I used it before his diagnosis. But now that the coronavirus is prevalent, I would like to have something to use before I have the opportunity to wash my hands. I am in town to help care for my dad while he’s undergoing diagnosis and potential treatment options, I am working to ensure that I do nothing to subject him to a virus while he is at risk. It is appalling to me that there are people who are so selfish that they hoard products even though they don’t need them. I’m only looking for a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer. If I go to the store and get back in the car I can sanitize and not worry about coming back to the house with the coronavirus. I am realistic but frustrated that I cannot find this product. I thoroughly wash my hands at home but would like to ensure that I don’t bring the virus home. I have searched the internet, visited local stores and called other locations, but have not found a single bottle of hand sanitizer. I hope that those of you who have hoarded bottles of the product never have to experience what I am going through. If you did, you may have a very different perspective. Suzanne Simons

  45. @Suzanne Simons Use soap and water. It's better for him and for you. There's still plenty of good antibacterial soaps out there.

  46. @Ellen Soap is not available or practical in every circumstance. Hand sanitizer still has a valuable role to play.

  47. @Suzanne Simons --> Buy disposable nitrile gloves at Sam's Wholesale _150pr/$10 .

  48. I see some of the comments. It's not JUST that the price gouging in the time of a crisis on necessities conveys a complete lack of empathy and compassion for humankind (regardless of whether one's enterprise is large or small), but these people cleared out shelf upon shelf upon shelf, from discount retailers like Walmart to dollar stores everywhere. It's purely greed and certainly NOT a public service (maybe a "service" to a handful of rich people) when people remove access of average and lower income people to essential goods by buying out complete shelves worth of items then list those items nationally in venues where many likely: 1) do not have membership accounts, and 2) could not afford those items even if they do have such accounts; and 3) then preying on fear and uncertainly during a crisis by selling to the highest bidder. It is also NOT a public service if doctors, nurses and other caretakers cannot get supplies because of the enormous greed of a few. I wish stores would have set limits a little earlier, but with all the conflicting messages from our president, vp and "experts," they probably didn't know what to do. There will always be people seeking to capitalize on others' fear and pain; but that's why we need leadership during crises, perhaps mandatory rationing or requisitioning of supplies if need be.

  49. Well said...and Amen!!!

  50. This man is a parasite, and so is everyone who excuses or imitates him.

  51. @Perilous We know this problem very well in France from life during WW2 . There were some smart people who were lucky not to be prisoners of war in Germany as some French guys were for almost 6 years and they profited from everything they could get their hands on and sell to the Germans or to rich French people on the "Marche noir " The black market . After the Liberation some became very rich -some very famous people today who even organized beauty products being made in Spain under Franco after the war. The richest lady in France . some other little merchants got their suspenders pulled after the Liberation.

  52. Opportunistic greed with no regard for the safety or well-being of others during an emergency. If there is a law that he broke in a jurisdiction where he tried to sell his wares then by all means he should be prosecuted.

  53. His shirt says “family man”! This week I helped man (as a volunteer...as in free, as did others) our county’s Coronavirus hotline. Physicians were calling for N95 masks so they could swab patients for potential Coronavirus infection. What about those families?

  54. These resellers create distortions in the market where locals are denied needed products. That Dollar Store isn't going to stock more than they think they can sell, so this guy's self-righteous attitude doesn't sell with me. Authorities should confiscate the hoard and distribute it.

  55. Nothing like discovering the "price" for greed is rather high. The Chattanooga Times Free Press (also) has a front page interview and a photo of a bemused-looking Colvin- stating: "I'm trying to figure out where to donate it to," he said. "I didn't anticipate the magnitude of what was going to be happening now.". Word of advise: Don't invest in laundry mats if you hit the lottery- and don't travel the states swiping shelves clean of potentially life-saving merchandise.

  56. I found it interesting that the Colvins claim that they are producing a service, redistributing this stuff. Somehow that doesn't make much sense. If you go into a CVS or Walgreens and buy out every mask they have, you're forgetting that they, and every other retailer, especially chains, stocks what they know from experience they WILL sell and don't stock what they don't. They all keep records of what stock turns over, and what sits on the shelf. In other words, they know their local market and these two "gonifs" deliberately upset that apple cart. So when the coronavirus comes there, as it's now everywhere but W.VA, there won't be needed supplies for the local people. That's no service at all, just excessive greed capitalizing on others' misery.

  57. Make them hand deliver the stockpiles to their local hospitals, respectively, then give them some solid reasons to spend a little extra time in the emergency room.

  58. Not even 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer can remove the stain on the Colvin brothers’ reputation.

  59. If you believe certain laws are outdated, it does not give you license to disregard those laws. Most states have anti-price gouging laws that take effect during emergencies, which can be declared by the President (currently in effect) or state Governors (39 states so far). Unfortunately, these laws can be difficult to enforce and often lack oversight. It's one reason why some companies have taken upon themselves to stop price gouging. We need MORE regulation of the private-sector in this country. Republicans have been relentlessly dismantling consumer protections for years (see Republican efforts to repeal Dodd-Frank and the Trump administration's challenge to CFPB's constitutionality, the case for which was recently argued before the Supreme Court and will be decided later this year). Republicans want to continue giving free reign to big corporations at a terrible cost to consumers. Just look at what has been happening to the housing market since the economy began to recover from the 2009 recession: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/magazine/wall-street-landlords.html

  60. Generally I’m opposed to anti-gouging laws, but I feel that these guys “stole” the needed material from their neighbors to sell online.No sympathy for them. Some jail time should help prevent this in the future.

  61. Jail time refers to a penalty. So the penalty for what, price gouging. You contradict yourself.

  62. If he had listed these products on an Ebay auction and let the bidders run up the price, would his actions be any more ethical?

  63. Really people? Let him donate it and get a tax write off? No. Seize it and charge him with whatever misdemeanor best fits. Return the product to whatever shelves it came from. Make sure the stores don’t allow multiple purchases. It’s unfortunate the big guys get away with any number of crimes, but that doesn’t mean the little guys get a pass. We do know right from wrong.

  64. I don't approve of this kind of action but wonder how different is it from the US Government not willing to pay to use the German test kits especially after the US made ones were determined to be faulty. So the need to line their pockets over the need to save lives seems to be the same in both cases. Ethics is the first luxury thrown out when a crisis rears its head in a capitalistic society. Thankfully I live in a socialist democracy for that very reason. A country that regularly ranks as the least corrupt in the world.

  65. How is this any different from war profiteering? Except these are items needed particularly by frontline health providers, and the vulnerable, who are older and immunocompromised. These are fellow citizens, who -like our fellow global citizens - are fighting against a non-affiliated, apolitical virus. "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

  66. hot water and soap are the best. not hand sanitizer especially not for babies or any children. tocopherols are in the hand sanitizer which can damage the brain development of anyone under 18 or possibly until at least 22 yrs of age. my sister and I use hot water and soap. I don't know if purell still puts it in the hand sanitizer or not

  67. @jennifer t. schultz and what if you don’t have access to soap and water at a particular moment?

  68. I think it’s important to situate his actions first outside of a crisis. The article says “Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing ‘inefficiencies in the marketplace.’ Some areas of the country need these products more than others, and he’s helping send the supply toward the demand.” There are virtually no inefficiencies in the marketplace to distribute Nikes. Stripping shelves bare so goods that were available no longer are does not increase efficiency. His role I often to create false scarcity, so as to profit from it. That is not fixing inefficiencies, it is inserting them. So, add subterfuge (and/or wishful self-delusion) to his list of misdeeds.

  69. What is the legality around bulk resale of items without a business license? Especially crossing state lines. It seems shady to me...

  70. This is why health care should be public service, regulated like a utility eliminate the profit motive. This includes the supply chain for all health related supplies. - These supplies are in a storage unit - not a temperature controlled warehouse/location. in addition, if the tips of the bottle touched anything or bottles have been opened/altered in any way - There is no guarantee it is safe to use these supplies in a critical situation. This is the same of any health supplies purchased from third party sellers. This guy's behavior is typical of someone who is very scared and insecure - more and more common in the USA - He needs a secure job to take care of his family and a living wage. Less and less common for people who do not have very advanced skills.

  71. Private Equity has been doing its own version of this since the recession. So any company that's buyable and might provide a relatively reliable stream of income with less risk and higher returns becomes prey. Prices are jacked up if they can gain a relative monopoly or the product quality is degraded while the price remains steady in the name of higher margins. This is just a 'higher class' version of what Mr. Colvin is doing -- just that you never know these guys names and it's perfectly legal, perfectly legal. The other irony is that Mr. Bezos squeezes every penny he can out of every vendor. To the tune of $106 billion. And no problem there. We only hold up Mr. Colvin as a bad apple because he's not smart enough on how he (ab)uses the system.

  72. The actions of this guy seem terrible, but let's think about price signals. By buying massively and early he and others like him sent a signal through the order books of all these stores that more (sanitizer, masks etc.) were needed and valued. That demand signal reaches the producers and accelerates and brings forward the production of more sanitizer etc. for the market as a whole even at higher production costs.

  73. These price gougers are no difference from China's Red Cross, which prioritizes the inventories of hospitals that treat party elites over hospitals for the common people. Some of the mask donations even get resold overseas. An epidemic is the true test of human conscience. I can't believe I have spent two days searching and searching and finally realize that the shortage of supplies isn't entires because of our dependence on outsourcing.

  74. If he wants to redeem himself in they eyes of the public, he and his brother need to donate all those items necessary for health and safety of his fellow American citizens to a public health facility ASAP. Paramedics like my daughter should not be working without masks because the company she works for can't get enough for all the First Responders that work there!

  75. Amazon, Ebay et. al. should tell their systems to keep prices stable on related supplies without blocking sales completely. It won't be perfect but better than nothing at all. As for the Colvin brothers, they should quickly and safely drive back to the communities they plundered and donate the supplies. Now.

  76. I work in a pharmacy that does a lot of medications for immunocompromised patients or patients on immunosuppressants. We have trial size bottles of hand sanitizer that we are refusing to sell to anyone -- instead, we are giving them, completely free, to our highest risk patients so that they can stay safe. Take a note, dude, give it to the people who need it the most.

  77. @ThetaSigma Thank you for your service.

  78. And good luck EVER getting back on Amazon, you opportunist gouger.

  79. When two brothers in TN have an entrepreneurial spirit and can make a profit it's price gauging, but when a millionaire from NYC, or Big Pharma makes profits it's called "The American Way" - oh please.

  80. Doesn't make it right though.

  81. @elizabeth They’re both called price gauging.

  82. @elizabeth Yep, these two, Trump, and GOP donors have a lot in common.

  83. This man is not a "businessman". He simply has no ethics and is willing to make a "profit" that others are not. He would want protection of law if other come and use force to take what he has, and demand he cease his "business" activities. Imagine if we all stooped to the level of his "business" being parasitic and not producing or creating anything independently. Just exploiting situations for our own needs. He's a former military man, all right. Even sold his family name and reputation here to brag on what he has already put in the bank off his "business" activities...

  84. He could mitigate losses by selling the remaining product at normal margins. "Oh poor me!"? I think not.

  85. We have eminent domain...insane that the government can seize property your family has owned for generations, but not a stockpile of sanitizer for urgent public safety?

  86. The boys don't get it, do not understand their greed. Hope they will donate aplenty to hospitals friends, offices, charities, stores, and restaurants. Meantime I hope they run out of toilet paper.

  87. What's written on that T-shirt that Noah Colvin is wearing? "On your mark, get set, LEAVE!" Hmmm. What could that be about? (See photo in article.)

  88. I wonder if he'd be interested in buying my stockpile of very tiny violins....

  89. This guy is morally confused. And I say that literally. He has no idea that what he did was awful, but seems to have discovered that it really was an awful thing and now wants to make amends. I live in East Tennessee (though not Chattanooga) and I can totally see this happening here.

  90. Actually, he still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. A television reporter interviewed him, and when the reporter asked him if he would say that he’s sorry about what he had done, there was an extremely long pause followed by “No, I don’t think that l would.” He said that in business there’s wins and there’s losses, “...and cutting my losses is the right thing to do.” He’s still looking at it from the “me, me, me” perspective - cutting *his* losses by “making plans” (his words) to donate these items is in *his* best interest. He’s not considering donating because it’s in the best interests of his fellow human beings who need these items and because it’s the right, moral thing to do to make amends for his predatory behavior. It’s still all about him.

  91. This guy should be prosecuted . The merchandise requisitioned. We are in a war situation as a French doctor at the head of the biggest hospital in Paris declared.

  92. He should sell them for a reasonable price - 100% markup not unreasonable now ... if he wants $70/bottle, I hope he gets burned - BAD. This guy cleaned out shelves for selfish reasons and prevented thousands of people from getting any.

  93. These are the types of people who voted for Trump.

  94. Why not publish his address and then we can all go and get what we need. He has made back his investment. Such a misguided person....ruled by greed.

  95. “You’re being selfish, hoarding resources for your own personal gain,” A whole article vilifying budding capitalists when, surely Bezos never hoarded resources for his own personal gain. Guess he's nipping the competition at the bud.

  96. Live by the scam, die by the scam. Character is fate. Meantime, big money with this same model is busy trying to ensure that the outcome of this episode is more inequality.

  97. These guys need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not only should they be prosecuted for price gouging but for what ever the applicable murder level charge would be for anyone who dies in the areas where they depleted the supplies of these products. The remaining stock should be confiscated and given to families in the areas he robbed of these life saving products. Any revenue they made during this despicable venture also needs to be taken and used for the greater good. These guys are not family men. Don't believe their spin on things now that they have been caught. Had they gotten away with it they would be bragging about how much money they made while people die in the areas they depleted. They are sinful greedy jerks who care nothing of others and will likely be at least partially responsible for the death of people who are truly family oriented.

  98. He should be arrested and supplies confiscated to people in need. What an abysmal situation.

  99. If he donates, he can take a tax write off and probably avoid paying taxes on what he did sell... That is the American way, folks... Don’t blame him. Blame a government that cut our pandemic research and response teams that Obama created—because everything Obama must go... Blame a president that wouldn’t accept help from WHO and wanted an “American test” made by American companies so they could make a profit Blame medical personnel who refuse to hold a president accountable when he lies to the public about the realities of this pandemic...

  100. I just hope he and his brother will be banned for life selling on Amazon.

  101. In California, individuals need a Seller's Permit if selling items more than 3 times in a 12 month period- even online. You're also required to pay taxes. (https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/formspubs/pub107/) [Pub.109 & 177].

  102. @Candlewick another driver of California's population exodus.

  103. I hope this man and other such corrupt opportunistic individuals like him get a taste of their own medicine some day when their family badly, awfully, terribly needs something for their own safety and security and someone is hoarding it and charging an unfathomable amount for it. Karma always comes back to haunt you and this man will pay a price (pun intended) someday soon. I promise you!

  104. Move over, Nikki Haley. The GOP has found its standard-bearer for 2024.

  105. Hand sanitizer made easy. Purchase a 16oz. or 32oz. bottle of a mild, inexpensive hand lotion with the pump (we like unscented), now a get yourself a 16oz or 32oz. bottle of 91% isopropyl standard rubbing alcohol and a funnel. Be sure it’s wide enough at the bottom to insert into the hand lotion bottle. Once home combine roughly 40% hand lotion with 60% isopropyl alcohol into a food processor, blender or old school eggbeater - mix until it’s somewhat runny. Once you’re done - place your funnel inside the lotion bottle and fill it up - leave enough room for the pump. Remember to shake it well before each use. Please share this with the world!

  106. @Donald The problem is that rubbing alcohol cannot be found, either.

  107. As of 3 WEEKS ago, there was not a SINGLE bottle of Rubbing Alcohol on any shelf in NYC. Does vodka work instead?

  108. There is a difference between being first to the store to procure the latest collectible (Nike shoes, the latest toy)... versus hoarding essential supplies. Resell a Nintendo game to someone choosing a premium over scouring stores themselves... no moral foul. Opportunistic behavior placing the community at risk... unforgivable.

  109. Big pharma at it’s best. Remember the guy who bought the patent on the Epipen and tried to increase the price so that most people couldn’t afford it? Same thing, just on a different scale. Because you have his name, he can personally be attacked. So much of this is going on behind the scenes and we just aren’t aware of it. Welcome to the free market economy.

  110. This constitutes anti-social behavior, as does “gray-marketing” of drugs during scarcity. Both are moral defects which should not be tolerated.

  111. Ummm. So he claims he bumped up his prices because his costs went up, but then admits he has made a substantial profit?

  112. Sad comment on the morality of some people. They could be risking others lives who were unable to buy these much needed items Profit over morality. Seems Trump has brought the stout in people already on the edge.

  113. Where is the contempt for Amazon? Without the platform, these price gougers wouldn’t have a place to sell. Big tech is the problem here too as it is in so many aspects of our lives.

  114. During WW2, aside from the opprobrium of one's neighbors, there were laws against hoarding and black marketing. I wonder if any of these are still on the books, dormant perhaps, but maybe applicable in the current crisis.

  115. Since we are in a National Emergency, I think the local authorities should have to right to prosecute and expropriate

  116. Gosh, I sure hope the storage locker where they are hoarding this ill-gotten gain has been sanitized and disinfected -- not.

  117. Hope Mr capitalist realizes that there is only just enough alcohol in the formulation to kill most (not all) bugs, and that small molecules like ethanol and isopropyl alcohol can gradually permeate through the plastic bottle. So....your 17,000 bottles have a comparatively short shelf life. Soon you will be sitting on tons of inactive gel. Enjoy!

  118. Cognitive dissonance is such a real thing. He thinks he isn't the bad guy but he is profiting off others' misfortune. He is buying supplies in mass stock and being paid for his labor? He is responsible for depleting his own market. He knows there is a demand for it and the supply is limited, it is based economics but he is also contributing to driving up prices. This is wrong in any situation and the fact that he made so much clearly indicates that he knows what he is doing. Of course the villain doesn't think he is doing anything wrong. There are people unable to get these supplies who have the virus, he is singlehandedly contributing to the spread of this virus from undiagnosed cases. American capitalism at its finest.

  119. @Shirley ---> This is not capitalism. What might better be termed "exploitative mercantilism & price gouging" by a morally compromised opportunist has been caught redhanded rationalizing a path as a victim at the expense of the common good.

  120. Tough new laws are needed so that more lives are not lost from these amoral profiteers of human suffering. This is what legislatures and government are for - to protect us from this type of harm. Elected officials, please take notice and get to work on this, now!

  121. Hope he gets stuck with it all. If he had made a reasonable profit and provided a service, that would have been fine, what he did is NOT ok.

  122. There are times one can see so very clearly the problems with a capitalist society. What these guys did might be legal (buying up essential products of which there is a shortage during a crisis should be a crime) but it’s selfish and hurts the common good.

  123. @Eric It’s actually not legal in many states (including NY) to price gauge during an emergency.

  124. Amazon should be policing such price gouging. Mr. Colvin should be banned for life from Amazon and all his profits should either be returned to the buyers or refunded by Amazon.

  125. @F Grasso But doesn’t Amazon make a profit on price gouging? A lot of the products they sell are actually more expensive than at local stores or other websites.

  126. The state government should come in and seize the haul, then redistribute it within the states where it was bought. The state can give the price gougers face value for the price of the products.

  127. Judging from listings on my local Craigslist, that's where people are price gouging for masks now.

  128. Now that a national emergency has been declared, can Federal marshals come and confiscate the hoards for public distribution?

  129. Actually I just heard a doctor on TV say that hand sanitizers are not a good idea because they kill bacteria and we could then develop a superbug that no antibiotic could help. We would have a virus and a bacteria pandemic!

  130. I find it hard to sympathize with this person. BTW - shouldn't retailers step up and say 1 bottle per person per day?

  131. capitalism! free market! supply and demand! here are the consequences of that morally bankrupt ideology, and what happens without intervention.

  132. Noah, I’ll pay you a dollar a bottle and we’ll donate the whole inventory to areas that need it. You’ll recover half your investment, communities will benefit, and you’ll no longer be the guy hoarding 20,000 bottles of sanitizer during a pandemic. What do you say?

  133. No where to sell it? Oh please. Park your car at any supermarket, open your trunk, and sell each bottle for $2.00 a bottle with a limit of two per customer. He would double his profits and help thousands of people. If he holds onto it, he potentially risks losing any profit and loses the opportunity to help people. Horrible ethics.

  134. "Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging." You have got to be kidding me.

  135. “There are none so blind that will not see.” Open your eyes, your conscience, your mind. What if your neighbors bought up all the food for miles and charged you at your profit rate. A gallon of milk let’s say it’s usually $3. We’ll charge you $50. , loaf of bread $45.,eggs $55.

  136. I'm basically sympathetic to him. It *might* be reasonable for Amazon to cap the price he can charge and make clear to anyone buying from him that they won't be allowed to re-sell at a higher price, but making it hard (or impossible) for people willing to pay those prices to buy from him? That's totalitarian, and I hope that the Trump administration will pursue an anti-trust action against Amazon and E-bay for this.

  137. Amazon and Ebay aren't preventing him from selling, only from selling through their venues. That's not monopolizing. If he can sell his product on his own, good for him. If he can't sell without the crutch of Amazon or Ebay, too bad. They're free to make the rules that govern selling through them, and he's free to build his own website or set up a tent in his driveway.

  138. @Aaron: By hoarding for re-selling, he is harming others - he is keeping the product from others at the original price and padding it with his mark-up, adding no value. Let him peddle it from a push-cart. I have zero sympathy for him. This is profiteering.

  139. @Aaron Disagree. Amazon and Ebay have the right to deny people the use of their platform as long as they're not discriminating on race, gender, etc.

  140. Shame that this U.S. Veteran must resort to hustling to earn a living. He obviously has intelligence and interesting skills. He would be great in supply chain logistics.

  141. Nope. He was already making six figures selling things on Amazon before his Purell exploitation. He is not some down and out Vet. He chose to be greedy and exploit a pandemic.

  142. On behalf of the folks out here who make their living in logistics and supply chain services: No, no he would not.

  143. On the behalf of all the people out here who make a living in supply chain and logistics services: No, no he would not

  144. I am surprised at all the negative comments. These business people are just like any financial shark that works on Wall street. You have no problem with them?

  145. @john I DO have a problem with then.

  146. @John I have a huge problem with them.

  147. He can drive somewhere and set up a mobile store -- and sell them for 100% above the purchase price -- people will buy. Something bought for 3.00 can sell for 6.00, but should not be selling for 60.00 and that too in these desperate times.

  148. By your own standards of morality, these men are moral heroes. They're enabling those who need these supplies most - those in affected areas, to whom the value of the goods is worth the increased cost - to have the stock they need. They're keeping the supplies away from those who don't need them as much (like me, who doesn't need hand sanitizer enough to pay $20 for it) and ensuring it's in stock for those who truly need it and will pay $20 (like the new mother). If you'd like to see what happens when people don't price gouge, look at toilet paper. The neediest among us, those who would spend $100 or more on it right now, will struggle to find it. All the money in the world won't make the toilet paper available to them, not until it's restocked. If toilet paper was price gouged, it would be available to them. These price-gouging men are the needy person's best friends. But, my standards of morality are not yours. These men are moral, but not because they're performing a public service. They're moral because they're living life for themselves, pursuing their own happiness even in darker times like these. They're finding opportunities to enrich their lives and taking full advantage. They're selfish, and that's good. Price gouging is moral and should be legal. It should be encouraged in a crisis because it benefits everybody, but most importantly the men and women putting in the hard work to deliver the goods. I take my hat off to the price gougers.

  149. Hopefully you’ll still feel that way when you’re on the paying end of price gouging for supplies you need to live during a crisis.

  150. @Grant I totally disagree. Look into the Hunt brothers and their manipulation of silver and soy beans. This is market failure and calls for regulation and sanction.

  151. Thanks, Ayn Rand.

  152. Many of the things we hear about are the very things we have been told we should have on hand in case of emergencies. Remember we rarely get much warning when it comes to an emergency. I have extra toilet paper on hand because I buy when it goes on sale and I have a coupon. I just added 32 rolls to the food pantry pickup that our neighborhood supports. I also dropped off some for friends who are not as well prepared. Of course I could put some of the half dozen bottles of rubbing alcohol I have on eBay. I get those to take care of my sunroom plants (bugs) when I go to Costco every other month but I think good old soap and water does a better job for your hands.

  153. why not open a small store and sell even offer delivery. I don't like price gouging either.

  154. Companies create the products for cheap. Sell them to retailers for more. The retailers sell them for more. Sometimes quite a bit more. He took and was selling them for greatly above the MSRP. But these aren't generally non-essential items he's hoarded to resell. He took and bought them at retail only to resell them for significantly more to fully take advantage of a health crisis or serious health situation. If retailers wanted to do that they could. But he choose to do it for significantly more. He didn't care about you, your family, or your friends. He was taking advantage of a serious health situation, then making it more serious by wiping stores out of the product so those people could struggle and suffer all so he could profit. He's not a victim. Not in any capacity. He was doing it with health products and other necessities. Not TVs and Pokemon. Think of all of the people that could have been helped with those products. But instead there they sit not being used. People like him are the problem. They aren't capitalists. They are far far worse.

  155. With respect to high-demand items during times of crisis, I'd like to see retailers double or triple the price of such items to discourage hoarding and encourage conservative use of such products, but the incremental price would be placed in a charitable fund to be used for purposes related to the crisis, so that no retailer can be accused of taking advantage of the crisis to profit from spiked prices. On top of that, enforce reasonable limits on quantities.

  156. @Andrew Kennelly That strategy would discriminate against lower incomes. Why not have the stores place a limit to the amounts one can purchase? After a run on toilet paper, a local store here placed toilet paper in the back and only gives it out “one” to a customer.

  157. 95% of Americans would be far better prepared to deal with this coronavirus disaster (medical bills, lost wages, expenses) if the Richest 1% didn't "hoard" about 25% of the national income and an even greater share of the national wealth. I don't see any two-faced prosecutors, judges, politicans and policemen doing anything about that, however.

  158. Stopping sellers from making excessive profits from a public health crisis? Isn’t this what pharmaceutical companies do on a daily basis? Maybe someone needs to stop them...

  159. So my daughter works at a large metropolitan D.C. hospital. The nurses at the hospital have been told that the N95 face masks are in very short supply and that the lesser protective face masks “are probably ok” if caring for a patient in respiratory isolation. I feel worried for my daughter and all those on the front line who will be caring for patients with Coronavirus. Hopefully this man will do some soul searching and donate these supplies to where they are needed quickly.

  160. @Chris Casparus Sadly, I doubt it.

  161. I don’t have time to scan all of the comments but the first thought that comes to my mind is for these guys to return the items to local stores that will refund them the money they paid. If they do so within the store’s return policy he could recoup a certain amount of money. Dollar Stores have only an exchange option in my area. If they were smart enough to keep the receipts some of their money can be recouped. Sell in the community at a small profit. Not a full solution but a start for to deplete his inventory and others to acquire the product they need. Also they better report their side income or they may run into tax issues in the future.

  162. One question not raised here is the supply lines in question. I’m all for free market capitalism but manufacturers and suppliers have an incentive to maintain quality from the production line through the retail or professional user experience. In addition, recalls can’t be effective if the province of a product cannot be determined. As others have noted, these items really shouldn’t enter the supply stream for medical facilities due to their strict procurement standards.

  163. Why is there an article written about such a person, they should not get any publicity and that's exactly what they want. I would never buy anything from them. If they are sellers on Amazon I hope they ban them forever and if not I will sure hope to verify that anything I buy on Amazon is not from them. They are heartless and have no care for anyone, I sure wouldn't want any donation from them. And same for those companies and other people who are price gouging, heartless.

  164. @PattieD I think these guys are awful but thank the Times for publishing the article about them. It's like the recent one about the Bernie Bros who are oblivious to the impact of their actions on others. It's just normal to them. I'm glad to know their names so I'll know never to buy from them (if they're allowed back in). But I guarantee their lives are not fun these days because of this article and I find that satisfying.

  165. Re:"Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging. While he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each, he said people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees and about $10 in shipping." What about the person who was at the mentioned stores trying to buy it for $1 + tax? really Mr. Colvin?? Can the Air Force not take some action against him?

  166. Less than a month ago, courts decided that the military can enforce the UCMJ against retired members. Retired personnel are in a quasi reserve status since they can be called back to duty as a condition of their pension and the court accepted the argument that they are therefore still subject to military justice.

  167. @Sainath He claims he was trying to fix "inefficiencies in the marketplace". But with his labor, Amazon fees, and shipping expenses, it hardly sounds efficient. He's just a bottom-feeding profiteer.

  168. This is the “it is all about me” philosophy that so many Americans starting with our President subscribe to. If you want to punish individuals, then apply the same standards to large business. The prime example - payday lenders and the tobacco companies.

  169. @Joel Stegner Those companies get away with this through highly paid lobbyists who pour money in the campaign coffers of both Republicans and Democrats to give them a pass. Our free press should be highlighting this outrageous exploitation of the poor.

  170. @Joel Stegner Don’t forget pharma

  171. @Joel Stegner: Oh really? See Manny Ranga and Violeta Perez from Toronto. I suppose you'll just say that Canada is part of the "Americas" and thus just as innately immoral and solipsistic. You need to get out more if you think this selfish, opportunistic behavior isn't replicated worldwide. Where it isn't, you'll probably find an extremely homogeneous population in all respects.

  172. Sadly, this guy is sitting on products that could benefit a lot of people. Someone needs to offer him a decent price, then distribute the items to people in need.

  173. @RonO Or someone in our government should seize these supplies and have CDC or the Red Cross distribute them in an effective and efficient manner. You know, like Colvin was trying to do but without making an obscene profit at the expense of human life.

  174. by decent you mean what he paid or less since he made profit already

  175. @RonO How about he gets NOTHING.

  176. Kind of an amazing intervention on behalf of Amazon, on what would otherwise be a seller behaving as expected in a free market. Worse yet, Amazon is essentially denying him its services as a marketplace—an exercise of absolute power to meddle in the nation's most prominent market. ...and yet no free market activists have attached themselves to this story

  177. @Stevie B. - There’s no such thing as a free market. That’s just a tawdry term used to justify exploitation. If markets were really free, there wouldn’t be any subsidies or bailouts. Of any kind. For anything.

  178. Don’t confuse freedom with the absence of law. We don’t live in caves anymore. Capitalism should have rules. What these people are doing is like theft and it should be illegal, even when it comes to a toy. In the case of a disaster such as this, these people are more than thieves, they’re potential murderers. Business is supposed to bring value and these people don’t. They just steal it and sell it later to the same people who are now desperate. Capitalism doesn’t mean that we can bid on who gets treated first in the emergency room, it means that we can choose which emergency room to go to. Big companies are doing some bad things, but that’s a completely different topic.

  179. @Steve B. For good reason, as profiteering from the misery of others is morally reprehensible.

  180. These are the kind of men my mother warned me about; fortunately I heeded her advice. I feel clean because of that.