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: 170

  1. his spin, saying he was just helping get the goods to where there aren't any goods-- implying he's an Amazon victim, is completely inconsistent with "can't beleive" how much they're paying. Doesn't he realize nyt readers are harder to fool than Fox watchers? It's just sad that we need laws to prevent these people from such behavior, but glad we do.

  2. “I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.” Well, you are that guy. Every war has its profiteers.

  3. Amongst the long list of contemptible statements by this class A jerk is his assertion that he is providing a “public service”. Yeah? Well, how about donating or selling your stash at your purchase price to local hospitals and nursing homes? I won’t hold my breath for him to do anything remotely like that. Some hero

  4. "Family Man" thinks he's the victim. What's wrong with this picture?

  5. Colvin should be ashamed of himself, profiteering at a time like this. He should donate the Purell to the elderly and homeless, if he has any conscience at all.

  6. Are we supposed to feel sorry for these dudes? They just need to sell the products at cost. END OF STORY.

  7. He should be prosecuted.

  8. Mr. Colvin - you ARE "that guy".

  9. Put him and his brother in jail and distribute supplies to health car providers and needy people.

  10. Can he really not tell the difference between making a profit selling Nike shoes and price gouging medical supplies during a pandemic? And, I think he and his brother do look in the mirror-to practice their rationalizations out loud so they might sound less evil for an NYT article. Didn’t work.

  11. The Times can’t print what I would call these people. Providing a public service? It’s just capitalism? No, it’s greed and meanness.

  12. TOO LATE! "I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”

  13. Ok, that last paragraph is pure art

  14. Mr. Colvin - you are 'that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me'. Those are your words - not mine. Providing a 'public service' would be if you immediately got in your car and delivered some or all of the critical items you are stock piling to hospitals, nursing homes, social service agencies (for distribution to the poor), schools, etc. You are what Makes America Disgusting Again.

  15. So then we should just fight it out in the streets as to who can get the needed product first? If anyone thinks that that is patriotic or symbolic of a community coming together and looking out for each other? Holy cow

  16. Its astounding this guy and his Bro', lacks the intelligence to see how its his desire to gouge customers that will now hurt him. Frankly, I have zero sympathy, or empathy as a business owner, for jerks like him. I'm very happy Amazon had the sense and ethics to shut these Thugs down. They deserve to lose money. Colvin also deserves to lose if this is his business model. "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. (Alcohol-based sanitizer is pricey to ship because officials consider it a hazardous material.)" Uh, the customer pays the shipping and handling, so that cost is a wash. And usually the true labor costs are minimal. and the price of doing business. Absent Coronovirus, he would not be be selling those $1 (at retail) bottles for $50, he would be buying them at below retail, selling at the same prices as others on Amazon. And either living with the random losses, or not. So he was always in it to gouge the customers. That was his first thoughts. "Hey, lets drive all around, buy up what we can, then price gouge.!" His strategy was always to rip off people in a crisis. Don't matter if you're Bubba at the gas station or Colvin on Amazon. "I’m not looking to be...that guy (on the front page) who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.” Hello irony! You are that guy! Trump logic!

  17. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.” Guess what.

  18. He should be arrested. Hoarders are more damaging than the virus itself.

  19. "I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.” You just did.

  20. @Sohio That was my exact thought: "Too late."

  21. I wonder if this price gouger has landed on some sort of IRS watchlist?

  22. Mr. Colvin says that he’s “not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.” Hope his neighbors read the NYT.

  23. @Emily W : today, local papers pick up stories like this off the internet and reprint them.

  24. He's just one pitiful, tiny, bottom feeding fish in the vast ocean of Wall Street and DC predators.

  25. Hoarding these things can mean life or death for him and his family. If others don't have them...

  26. This is sort of like the Bible’s reference to manna and the Israelites. They were told to take only what they need and not stockpile it, or it would be worthless . Kind of like what’s going to happen to these two clowns’ investment.

  27. This guy is going to get a lot of hate mail for doing what he did. I wouldn't want to be interviewed or have my picture taken with bottles of hand sanitizers in my garage.

  28. The government should seize his stash and redistribute it to schools and hospitals.

  29. Remember, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is more effective than hand sanitizer.

  30. @Greenman Yes! It works great when soap and water are available!

  31. @Greenman : but hard to do in a car -- on a bus or train -- subway -- at work -- for a disabled person who can't stand at a sink or get into a bathroom.

  32. This greedy, anything-goes attitude, unrestrained by any personal sense of ethics, is at the heart of everything wrong in this country today. The downward slide into moral decay seems never ending. Not surprising given the exemplars, from parents to president. Sad!

  33. These guys are greedy and selfish. And so are pharmaceutical companies in the US who charge 10x-50x more than Canadians for the same exact drug. If y’all truly worshipped G-d rather than money, we would not have pregnant women stressing about where to find wipes and moms (like me) stressing about how to pay $8000 a month in meds for my kid with a brain tumor. Thankfully, there are still true believers who are willing to sacrifice for the good of others.

  34. Doing a public service? This guy's knack for self delusion would make him a perfect GOP politician. In the meantime, I applaud Amazon for monitoring its vast network and shutting down this type of despicable behavior.

  35. A great time to watch the Orson Welles classic, The Third Man, about a hustler who was selling fake and diluted antibiotics. For this fool to have stuck his head up to complain is beyond hubris, and endangers the safety of his family.

  36. Mr. Colvin violated the 'Pig Rule' and is suffering the consequences. Had he taken something approaching a reasonable profit he would have done well. Instead he and his brother are suffering the consequences of their greed. It is hard to feel sorry for them.

  37. Is he that naive to give his name, be photographed with his family, and rationalize he is doing a public service?! I’d put a good lock on that garage...

  38. Greedy and selfish. We can't get hand sanitizer in our city, either, and it's because of people like you Noah. People whose lives depend on not getting sick -- like cancer patients or anyone with a compromised immune system -- can't get necessary items like sanitizer, and you grabbed it for profit. I hope you learn a hard financial lesson from this.

  39. Good luck Mr. Colvin - that is not the type of capitalism our community supports. I’m not going to say exactly what I think of you and your ilk. So sorry Charlie.

  40. American capitalism at work.

  41. Maybe he can diversify and start buying up all of the chemo drugs that pediatric cancer patients need.

  42. Price gouging of medical supplies during a global crisis is the highest form of parasitic behavior. Folks who engage in profiting from others in such a way deserve to loose their business. It is disgusting on their part.

  43. He doesn’t know what to do?? Donate them to hospitals and assisted living centers!

  44. "The quest for lucre beyond a few easy needs has twisted good enough Men into dry, thwarted worms." Carl Sandburg

  45. My first inclination after reading this story: Write my local congressman to ask him to sponsor a law that makes profiteering from a pandemic illegal. Our country - the world actually - is full of people like this. Grifters are gonna grift. Look at our president and his family for Exhibit A.

  46. Not sure what the point was in publishing photos of the loving family of a cynical, heartless profiteer. The perspective of this story is pretty odd.

  47. These products should be confiscated and redistributed to people that need them. As someone who has friends working in nursing homes that don’t have access to N95 masks, I see this as nothing but disgusting. In the same article he goes from saying he was making “crazy money” to saying he wasn’t price gouging. The jerk literally contradicts himself in the same article. This guy has a six figure salary. People in service industries and others on the front lines of human interaction are in danger AND losing their daily income and have less money to buy things to protect themselves and this guy thinks he’s doing a public service? I did get a big kick out of the last paragraph though - you’re in The NY Times buddy, as THAT guy. Well done.

  48. This is just awful! Hospitals are in dire need of supplies and these people are only interested in how THEY can profit!

  49. Capitalism at its finest.

  50. The Colvin Inventory: Bottles of Purell = 17,700; Strength of Character = 0.

  51. To those doing the price gouging...looks like you got a lot of nothing on your hands now. You are not offering a public service, you are not fixing inefficiencies in the system. You are simply greedy. Thank you Ebay and Amazon for cracking down on people who wish to profit on the misfortunes of others.

  52. Money Before God and Country: Capitalism at work in America.

  53. A shocking level of shamelessness.

  54. "What the heck am I going to do with all of this?” As a physician and a member of a vulnerable group, I can think of many possibilities. Consider donating it to the health department. Then, along with your brother and any other associates in this endeavor, consider disappearing from all public view, business dealings, and social interactions to fast and pray for forgiveness and enlightenment. Or else just disappear and pray, thanking Providence that when you need medical care, you will probably be treated by people with better moral judgment than yours.

  55. Time for people to storm these resellers and take the supplies. I’m sure people know where these morally reprehensible characters live. Go get them!

  56. He could launch a website on Wordpress, buy some google ads and ship with fedex home pickup, it’s not as if amazon is the only way to buy and sell online!

  57. My non-profit needs hand sanitizer. This is one reason why it's harder for us to get it.

  58. You don't need sanitizers! Soap and water is more protective anyway!

  59. Amazon is to be commended for cutting this monster off, saying, "“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal.” That sentiment needs to go one step further. His immoral actions are up there with a looter in a disaster.

  60. Amazon to be commended??? They shut him down only when the cost of bad publicity exceeded the profit they were making. A purely market driven decision.

  61. Seems to me that in a crisis like we are in now, this behaviour should be called what it is: criminal. Make it an offense, then prosecute. Disgusting; they belong behind bars.

  62. These are the sort of people who give capitalism a bad name.

  63. Seems like karma to me. Here's an idea to recoup his expenses--sell these products at cost to those of us who can't get them anywhere because of people like him.

  64. These goods should be donated to hospitals that are in need.

  65. Some people try to help others in a crisis. Others try to take advantage of people. This shows exactly what kind people these guys are. Low lives.

  66. Nice spin; take it to K Street! These guys are opportunistic, price gouging punks. I have zero sympathy for their current predicament. Moreover, their justification that it the shipping is why the price is so high is balderdash. They saw the crazed response by some panicky folks and sought to exploit it, plain and simple. That’s why there are anti-price gouging consumer protection laws. Because of them, when regular families try and get a bottle of Purell or toilet paper from the local supermarket—alas, the shelves are bare. The local Attorney General should investigate these guys and prosecute.

  67. The only satisfaction here is that these guys are now KNOWN TO THE PUBLIC and hopefully their creds on Amazon & Ebay ruined forever. And that they will get stuck with thousands of dollars worth of soon-to-be unsellable products. I am hopeful that local authorities will seize all this, as profiteering in the face of a national emergency and tragedy -- and distribute the whole lot free to the poor. This is the very worst kind of profiteering off tragedy and exploiting your fellow human beings. And this dude has a child. I pity that child.

  68. The Collins were greedy, and too much at that. Greed, threw their logic, sense and humanity out of the the window. Surely not smart. They just couldn’t stop.

  69. Gee, if someone figures out where this creep’s storage locker is, and decides to “liberate” the supplies and get them to local hospitals and senior centers, I think lots of people would help pay to defend the “liberators.”

  70. Sell them to our government. They are paying $1300 for a $12 dollar virus test kit. The will surely pay $70 bucks for a tube hand sanitizer made of 25 cents worth of alcohol.

  71. This level of greed is shameful. He went around small Tennessee (and probably Alabama) towns and bought up whole supplies of wipes/sanitizer to ship out of the state. He singlehandedly deprived thousands of people in his own state from access to basic protection. He should quarantine himself from from the rest of the state because he is NOT a good neighbor.

  72. No sympathy for Mr. Colvin. How many deaths will result from his and others, abject greed? Sadly we will never know.

  73. Why the outrage? Major corporations have been monopoly pricing for generations with government sanction. In response, we call it socialism when someone suggests regulating such activity. This individual is just trying to mimic Amazon and its ilk. Disgusting behavior, but still the American way.

  74. This guy is only the tip of an ice berg we would see if a war could happen and supplies in general would go very low. Black markets would be the regular and those profiteers would be making the laws of the market. We need a general protection from people like him. Morality is shifting with the societies standards....but this can not be the "new moral" in our country. Now we see the fruits of greed, selfishness and make me greater than others....

  75. Other questions about this man and others: Does he pay income taxes on his ‘business’? Because of unreported income, is his family on food stamps and Medicaid? Do Amazon and eBay issue 1099’s to sellers? Unprincipled people like this man are just one reason the IRS needs more funding and enforcement.

  76. Martin Shkreli was convicted for price gouging a life saving drug and was sent away for 7 years. How is this different?

  77. @JB Shkreli was actually jailed for securities fraud, but it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

  78. They can all lie to themselves as they want but they are profiteers. "I honestly feel like Its a Public Service" one of the price gouger says. Really! You emptied the shelves of many stores of products that are now no more available to the communities around them for you to fill you pockets! How do you call that ? In normal time, playing on product availability like Nike shoes or collectibles, why not. But in a life threatening situation this is completely different. I think they people have no soul.

  79. Takes two to tango. A panicked buyer from an unscrupulous seller.

  80. @Glenn No it takes one to be a crook. Just like all the traders on Wall Street who are taking advantage of this situation to line their pockets.

  81. I have no pity for these people who jumped at a chance to profit from this crisis. They purposely went to great lengths with their scheme, shame on them.

  82. I'm sure Mr Colvin will understand and invoke the "efficiencies of the market" if, god forbid, his wife or child become infected and are unable to access medical services because the hospitals are overwhelmed. Just the way things work, right Mr Colvin?

  83. I wish people like this got real jobs. He uses market buzz words as excuses for his behavior, but this is very clearly the words of a sociopath. We don’t need this in our society, we never did. This behavior is very sickening to hear. The only way through this pandemic is compassion for each other, those that don’t may find karma to be swift.

  84. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Love the T shirt and shot of the young family trying to get ahead in these tough times. Sad that he can't tell the difference between making money off of useless fads and profiteering and extorting money out of other humans in crisis. Hope this is illegal in the states where he did it and that he does time.

  85. @Sophia M. He's living the American dream! After all, he gave so much for this country.

  86. People could die thanks to these pandemic profiteers. Very glad they have been shut down and won't be rewarded any further for their greed. If they feel any remorse, they should donate these supplies to hospitals or other places that need them.

  87. Price gouging is illegal. They should be arrested. This shows the limits of capitalism. Sell a human dying of thirst water at an exorbitant price. I could say more. But just arrest them.

  88. What the US doesn't need are Trump opportunist gouging vulnerable people . Law enforcement should seize the stockpile and turn it over to local heath authorities. Mr Colvin should be prosecuted as a public nuisance and a fraud. Ebay is another market place to stay away from, for the time being.

  89. This is criminal, he needs to be arrested. it's not 10 dollars to ship, you guys need to check with amazon to see if you believe him. 25 times increased price, this is exactly gouging, this is what people did after katrina. this isn't the same as selling beanie babies or the like, this is lifesaving products that are necessary for operating rooms, labor and deliveries, sick people, new mothers and doctor's offices and schools. he deserves to lose all of him money and if someone died because they couldn't get these products they should try him for manslaughter.

  90. The moral outrage in the comments is amusing. I doubt any of the angry commentators have done a charitable act in the last two weeks.

  91. The guy in the article is actively price gouging in a national emergency. He is also depriving the marketplace of its customary supply and creating shortages where none would have happened naturally. Who knows how many others have done the same and are distorting the market for needed items? How is what charitable acts anyone has or hasn’t done in the last two weeks relevant to that fact? Non sequitur.

  92. People who aren't actively involved in charity work can't judge someone profiteering during a medical crisis? I don't follow your logic.

  93. @No What a wonderfully insightful, totally verifiable claim.

  94. I sure hope the IRS takes a nice, CLOSE look at this guy's tax returns for the last 7 years. The town where he lives should double check that he is paying all the proper BUSINESS Taxes he should be paying and has all the proper Business Licenses he is required to have? Maybe they should also check the local zoning laws to see if he is permitted to run a business out of his home? I wonder if his home insurance company is aware he is using his home for a business and is storing inventory the way he is? Then the local codes enforcement officer should have a look at his property. Is his storage of all these products up to code? Maybe the local fire marshall should stop by his house for an inspection of his business. Is the manner he is storing these products compliant with the local fire codes? Does he have smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, etc to deal with a fire? All that cardboard and plastic would be a real nightmare in the event of a fire. So many questions.....

  95. @GBoF As it turns out, hand sanitizer is highly flammable, It's considered a Class I flammable liquid. though alcohol burns at a relatively low temperature, the concentration of that product in his garage, though probably unlikely to catch fire would present a significant hazard if it did...

  96. @GBoF I love the way you think, and I hope that every institution you have named takes a look into this, particularly the IRS.

  97. Nice picture of one of the Colvin brothers with his wife and baby - how about other young parents who need the products he and his brother are hoarding? The rationale for what they're doing is narcissistic and greedy. They should be given the option of either donating their products to hospitals and nursing homes or being prosecuted for their criminal acts during a global pandemic.

  98. @Greg Gregson I thought she was a bit beyond the age for ripped jeans; a style adopted by teenagers. Wish I had never read about these uninteresting people. Not sure what an AF Tech is; could he be just another grunt ground crew, not some high tech operator.

  99. Pure and simple greed. A crisis like this can bring out the best in people and the worst in others. I have seen social media posts in my area where people are offering to shop for those who can't and should not go out in public. And then you have the hoarders and those such as this guy who see a crisis as an opportunity.

  100. I am a generally a free-market capitalist. But government’s role in a free market is to adjust incentives. Such pernicious exploitation should be punished. This amoral man’s stockpile should be confiscated - to help adjust incentives.

  101. I’d go with “immoral”.

  102. @Matt Pitlock I find it hard to believe it costs $10 to ship a bottle of hand sanitizer. But let's say it does. This guy said he charged up to $70 for a bottle of hand sanitizer. That is clearly not recouping his cost.

  103. @Estee Hand sanitizer is considered a hazardous material and there is a surcharge charged by the postal service.

  104. He should refund all the excess profits he made to each of the buyers who bought these products from him. A marginal profit is fine but the significant mark up he made taking advantage of the corona virus epidemic should be refunded to all buyers! This is the only just solution.

  105. Let’s apply these same laws and attitude to the pharma companies making outrageous profit daily on insulin, epi-pens and other long established pharmaceuticals that are being sold at outrageous profit levels long after the cost of R&D has been recovered.

  106. After seeing the price gauging online I sold a couple extra small bottles I had at cost to try to help. It cost me $3 to ship -- not the extra this guy said. eBay and Amazon should create a category on their platforms called "at cost" for all the folks willing to sell and ship for normal prices. It is also possible to make hand sanitizer with rubbing alcohol and glycerin (or use Aloe Vera gel). Yes, those products are largely sold out online, but you can find them in some stores.

  107. How else can a navy tech make decent money in the middle of nowhere? It shouldn’t come at the expense of other people, especially at this moment. They can sell it at reasonable price to ease the pain of others, not to create more by unreasonable profits.

  108. I wonder how many more like him are around hoarding these critical materials and if could be located through amazon and ebay data bases.Hoarded supplies seized and distributed where needed.

  109. I think it is important to note that when Mr. Colvin started out on his mission, to capitalize in America, there was no Pandemic. There was a goal to continuing to support his family. I don't believe Mr. Colvin was malicious. I also don't believe if he could predict the future he would have made the same choices. Sometimes ignorance is an excuse.

  110. If that is so- he already made a profit, donate the rest. He could clear his conscious and his family name. It’d be worth it.

  111. @A You're right. But how you start doesn't excuse your current actions. Seems like a pretty clear case of price gouging in the face of a crisis. He said he saw the crisis in march 1, bought related items, marked them up and sold them. Then tried to triple down by buying up everything in sight to do more of the same. He is the modern day version of a gas station price gouging during a hurricane that he cites an example of what is predatory about gouging... He just lacks the self awareness to see it.

  112. @A Uhhh, what? Just because the WHO hadn’t officially declared it a pandemic doesn’t mean that he was in any way ignorant. They collected all of the supplies after the first death was reported in the U.S. That’s not called ignorance, that’s called greed and a complete void of any concept of social responsibility. We’re supposed to be in this together & this man cares little about how his actions impacted anybody but himself. Let’s not make excuses, let’s demand more of each other.

  113. I hope the authorities take all of it off his hands and gives him some time in prison to reflect on what his actions have caused. What a perfect example of how greed and selfishness have flourished in this country over the past few decades as wealth and privilege have been accumulated by a few at the expense of everyone else, leading to everyone trying to "get theirs". It may not have a "hashtag" because it predates Twitter and social media, but #Where's Mine? could easily be the meme of the greed movement.

  114. An additional problem, they purchased product from remote areas. So, those persons who are less able to travel can not simply walk to their local store. As always, the less fortunate without a car or limited means are the ones doing without. Yes, he should donate today the products that he has and make a difference.

  115. This pandemic gives each of us an opportunity to reevaluate the current social/political climate of this country and make a decision. Do we want to continue with MAGA/me-first-ism/unfettered exploitation (economic and otherwise) of those less fortunate--OR, do we want to finally accept that we cannot survive long without taking other people's needs/desires into account as well. Nowhere is this more important than in behaving responsibly (i.e. safely) regarding the virus even though you are not in a high-risk cohort. Can you, in other words, do something (wash hands regularly, avoid large crowds, etc) that ultimately will probably not have much benefit to you but will no doubt reduce chances that others less fortunate (elderly, immune compromised, etc) will suffer? Regarding price gouging...this is just a continuance of exploiting those who have less than you do. Are these hand-sanitizer hoarders any different from large corporation who buy up affordable housing and then flip them at unaffordable prices (or rent them out for amounts that most working people can't afford).

  116. @Doug yes,very different. People could die.

  117. I was in Walgreen's yesterday. The shelves were bare. I heard one elderly gentleman ask one of the workers if she had hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes or thermometers. No to all of the above. Just heart breaking.

  118. An interesting facet of this article is the incite into the thought process that is used to justify this kind of behavior. He is just a "family man" in a "family business". He is performing a valuable service by getting these items out of rural areas and making them available in larger centers. Amazon and ebay may have taken action to stop these resellers but there are probably other sites that have not. The damage has been done in that the shortages have been created and there is no easy way to get the goods back into the normal distribution channels. It would be difficult to draft a law that would curtail this appropriately given that many businesses do essentially the same thing, the drug companies for example.

  119. How is this any different than when big pharma buys out a medication and then jacks up the price? This happens all the time and no one does a thing.

  120. @Stephen Weber How is it different? Well, Matt and Noah Colvin haven't contributed to a powerful lobbying group in Washington. They also don't employ expensive PR firms. They're just li'l people.

  121. @Stephen Weber Your statement is what Bernie has been talking about what Warren was clearly telling us day in and day out. Quality Health care is not a subscription to cable. This has always been about the quality of our lives. We refused to listen to Bernie, Warren and now we have in plain sight another issue that will not be wished away and the corruption that is called vulture capitalism.

  122. Pharmaceutical companies do not “buy up” all the medications available and then raise the price. They spend millions of dollars on scientific studies to create drugs, which is a trial and error process that can take many years with many failures to achieve success. Then they have to put the drugs through trials so they can get safely to market. This is a very high-risk business involving many scientists and business people that are then rewarded for their efforts. Without them, life-saving drugs would not be available. This is not even close to opportunists driving around cleaning out the shelves in all stores in a 1300 mile radius so that none of it is available to anyone else.

  123. At one level, I am impressed by the foresight of these profiteers. I cannot but wonder why the companies that make these goods and those that distribute it didn't see what was coming and ramp up their operations. There is a systemic failure here that is not being discussed. A faster response would have put people like Mr. Colvin out of business (as they deserved to be).

  124. I find it dubious that he has an accurate assessment of what towns don’t “need” these supplies. He is profiteering, and if there are many others like him, he is contributing to the shortage. The article stated that he didn’t start off hitting rural areas, he swallowed up the local community supply than branched out. I find it amoral, and it is interesting how he rationalizes it to himself. A good policy might be for stores to stop allowing these bulk buys from one customer.

  125. I may get a lot of angry responses for this, but part of the problem are the buyers. I mean, who in their right mind would pay $70 for a bottle of hand sanitizer?????? It’s not this guys fault that people are willing to pay such outrageous prices. I only have respect for this guy for finding a profitable business venture. He now needs to sell them in bulk to nursing homes or go door to door.

  126. @Nathan Someone in a state of fear for their health and safety at a time when their government has abandoned them would pay $70 for a bottle of hand sanitizer.

  127. @Nathan Nathan, I don't think you'll get a lot of negative responses just because you choose to ignore who initially created the problem you say buyers are a part of. The items they want to resell were available for people already, at normal prices. Bulk buying for the purpose of reselling at higher prices significantly changed the buying decision for consumers: either pay the extremely high price or don't buy at all and in a national (global) health crisis, I understand people pay a higher price for products that help protect themselves and others. What you describe as something you respect seems inhumane to others, including myself.

  128. @Nathan It's called profiteering. During wartime, this is treason.

  129. He should donate it all. It would be a win for the recipients and he could take a tax write-off since he seems so concerned about money.

  130. I wish our empathy towards fellow citizens and concern for an equitable distribution of necessary resources was as robust during non-emergency times. If we were as vocal about our outrage concerning excessive profits from "big pharma" as these comments appear to be about profiting from masks and hand sanitizers, maybe everyone in the US could afford their medications.

  131. @DStarr weve only made countless documentaries and news articles lawsuits about those issues thats like saying we arent going after tobacco just because its still around

  132. After seeing the article I went to the Amazon site. They are still selling fraudulent products (like magical copper coins and bracelets) and they are still engaging in price gouging. Since most of the products are made in the PRC, it is likely they are not what they claim to be. Go elsewhere for legitimate hand sanitizer, and make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. Nothing else will work.

  133. @LawyerTom: It's 70% alcohol, not 60%.

  134. @SammZapp No, it IS 60%.

  135. @LawyerTom Use soap. It works better than alcohol based products.

  136. Why won’t he sell his items at a fair price to hospitals, etc. instead of gouging? Would that be a problem? He can at least recoup his output and help others. That seems like a win-win to me.

  137. Sounds analogous to the American health care system: price gouging and unnecessary overhead (insurance companies) exploiting people in need.

  138. @Expat Travis People who laughed at Bernie and his desire to have health care coverage that would work for everyone aren't laughing now. Oh the cost, oh this oh my. Well I don't know anyone who has the money in their back pocket to pay for this nightmare we are all experiencing now. Guess paid leave isn't so pie in the sky as the GOP who never have to worry about anything because their bank accounts are lined with our suffering and dollars. Remember Europe takes care of their people wonder why greed is more important in America than lives.?

  139. Buying out all local supply in a 1300 mile radius by driving around and loading up is not "exploiting market inefficiency". It is literally the definition of creating artificial shortages and then profiteering from the suffering caused.

  140. The hoarding of masks is unconscionable, particularly when our health care providers can't get them. But, hand sanitizer isn't really that necessary for regular people. Just use soap and water and wash your hands frequently. Even the CDC recommends hand washing over sanitizers.

  141. @Ms. Pea : I agree, but it is pretty hard to find soap and water in a car! or on a bus! or while you are working! You don't always have access to soap, hot water and a sink! That being said: hand sanitizer is not some magical product made by secret scientists in a lab. It is basically rubbing alcohol plus aloe gel. You can make your own hand sanitizer gel at home. Get some 91% rubbing alcohol (70% is weaker, but better than nothing) and aloe vera gel. These are not in short supply to my knowledge. Blend together until it has a suitable consistency -- roughly 2/3rds alcohol to 1/3rd aloe gel. You can add a scent (essential oils) if you want, but it is unnecessary.

  142. @Ms. Pea But soap and water aren't always available. In those situations, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer.

  143. The government could simply ask the public to report any price gouger to the police. Right away, supply and price will be back to normal.

  144. Isn’t there something in the criminal code called reckless endangerment? If this doesn’t qualify I don’t know what would.

  145. This makes me ill just reading it. My daughter is a nurse in a hospital that is at the epicenter of the outbreak in Washington state where they are taking care of many Covid19 patients. They are reusing masks because they don't have enough. Last week they only had a 4 day supply of masks and gloves left in the hospital. Capitalism works ... until it doesn't. This type of hoarding has the potential to harm us all. Please donate these items to hospitals so our frontline healthcare workers can do their jobs safely!

  146. @Sarah DeMun You´re right - it´s a shame. A friend of mine working in a hospital told me that even hospital staff is stealing masks and sanitizer. They had to move those into a locked storeroom next to the operation theatre. If this guy had a spark of solidarity in him, he would either sell at a reasonable price and or - as you say, donate the whole stuff to a hospital as it rightly belongs there. Our health officials keep repeating that masks are for those who are ill and not for the healthy ones. A crisis lilke this brings out the best and the worst in us, it seems. Greetings from Switzerland, where things are slower than usual, but not desperate. Keep calm and carry on...

  147. @Sarah DeMun it's alarmingly frightening that hospitals do not have enough masks for at least 3-4 months. They dont buy them from Walmart, they buy in bulk from distributors & should always have cases of them, just for things like this. I'm not sure why we're blaming these hoarders for masks when stores only stock so much on hand (bc who needs them before today?) and Amazon are private sellers.

  148. @Sarah DeMun These greedy, immoral people are unlikely to donate their huge surplus because they didn't make money off it yet. These people don't care about the suffering of others. They only care about themselves. They need to be jailed for price gorging.

  149. It is appaulling how many people lack an understanding of basic economics. Prices are a method for rationing. The high prices for hand sanitizer are a signal for people to buy only what they need. The real problem is that stores did not increase the price fast enough. This allowed people to hoard. To put some numbers to it let's say 1,000,000 bought 20 bottles each of hand sanitizer @$1. Hoarding by ordinary people then allowed the scavengers to find all the left overs and resell for even higher markups. Now, imagine if prices at the local grocery had increased immediately to $10. Many of those million people would have hoarded less than 20 bottles. These scavengers probably wouldn't have the resources to buy vast quantities of hand sanitizer at the higher price. Prices could then rise in a more orderly manner and every one that needs hand sanitizer could get it. Instead, stores are afraid of being labelled "price gougers" or out right banned from it. I know it feels good to take the moral high ground against price gougers, but that attitude actually causes shortages and even worse cases of price gouging.

  150. @burning beard This probably isn't the moment for an economics lesson. It's a moment for social responsibility.

  151. Or perhaps instead of raising prices and gouging customers, the stores could put a limit on purchases of certain items per customer. Say 2 per customer? No need for Milton Friedman’s fantastical classroom theory during a pandemic.

  152. @burning beard , that's is a flawed way of thinking. What Pandemic needs is the cooperation of all to prevent this crisis. NOT everyone can afford a 10US bottle, the reality is exactly the opposite we need everyone to access protections so everyone is safer, not only the people with money. It's call national emergency for a reason. Consciousness and ethics are what is needed, awareness and love for your fellow human beings rather than profiteering from a Pandemic.

  153. I work with medically fragile folks here in rural New Mexico, many with chronic health conditions that require all visitors, myself and 24-hour home health staff included, to wear masks when we visit the home. Now those masks don't exists and cannot be found, and the most vulnerable among us are suddenly at high risk, at least partially because of greedy clowns trying to profit off of misery.

  154. All of these people should be heavily fined and prosecuted for what they have done, and all of the items they hoarded should be returned to where they grabbed it from. Their actions are a major factor in the panic and chaos that has come since. They created an unnecessary instability in an already very stressful time. They should not be allowed to keep their profits and definitely should be punished for their actions. It would be great to hear an eventual follow up from the NYT. If I were them I'd be now very afraid for my safety too.

  155. The items should be donated to health care facilities and first responders who need them.

  156. Honestly, I can't believe this man agreed to be interviewed for this article. The last sentence, his quote about what he didn't want to happen, is EXACTLY what happened. Did he truly think people would be sympathetic to him? If so, maybe he really is dense enough to think he was performing a public good.

  157. Plenty people have never interacted with a smart journalist. And thus reveal themselves in their unflattering truth before they understand what happened.

  158. "Just because it cost me $2 in the store doesn’t mean it’s not going to cost me $16 to get it to your door.” That's why, usually, you aren't competitive with the local store. However, when there's enough of you, you can create enough scarcity, and the demand is sufficiently flexible, for you to still sell. There should be a law, and there is.

  159. Not until the end of the article did I see the obvious solution of selling locally. Basically Amazon and other platforms don’t want a cut of the profits. So sell it out of the back of a truck. The profit will be there. And while people can discuss the profit, the only unarguably immoral choice is to leave it in storage when everyone would gain from its use. So sell it now.

  160. So little foresight among so many. Such a lack of any sense of altruism in a few critically placed individuals. Denial on the one hand, greed on the other. Here's an example of capitalism/entrepreneurialism/rugged individualism/call it what you will run amuck. When the history of this pandemic is finally written, price gouging and hoarding may loom large as the dynamics of a debacle are described. And the have and have-nots won't be about wealth but about soap and hand sanitizer.

  161. As someone who works with children who have compromises immune systems (but also as a human being who tries to have a moral compass) my first reaction to this story is GOOD. The particular individual in this story makes six figures selling stuff on amazon. There is no reason for him to capitalize on other people’s fear and suffering other than pure greed. For once amazon did the right thing by shutting him down. He could still sell his stockpile if he sold them at a reasonable price. Sorry not sorry buddy, stop being selfish.

  162. Frankly this 'price gouging' can be seen by many as a 'supply and demand' strategy that many people feel is OK. I see it as a calculated, selfish, and greedy device to prey on the hardship and fear of the population. It becomes "especially" mean when the products for 'sale' are items needed to combat a public health epidemic. I don't shed one tear for poor mr covin who obviously feels no guilt. Sad.

  163. @Lalo, with you 100%.

  164. Amazon suspended his account from what I understand. That means they blocked his funds and he is unlikely to ever get them back. And it's not like they will go to charity, Amazon punishes this guy as "there is no room for price gouging' but I can tell you that they have made 100% profit on this. Amazon is never responsible for anything sellers do as it is a 'marketplace': Taxes: not responsible; product safety: not responsible; fake reviews: not responsible; counterfeit stuff: not responsible. Delivery Driver Safety: not responsible. Then when it gets enough complaints and especially when it makes the press, it lashes out. Meanwhile, it profited from sales of all these things and often, then confiscates and keeps funds which presumably just get added to the bottomline. It often hides behind the sheer size of its marketplace to state it can't control everything but at the same time vies for a $10 billion Pentagon contract managing the IT for an organization with a 700 billion dollar+ budget. I am not condoning what this guy did but trust me, there is another side to this and when this guy listed his products on Amazon, there is nothing that told him there was an issue until there was.

  165. @John "...nothing that told him there was an issue until there was"--except conscience. But I guess he doesn't have that even now.

  166. @Carol You are missing my point: Amazon has profited from this as much as this Seller but comes out looking good.

  167. These sellers are not fixing "inefficiencies in the marketplace." They artificially created the shortage in the market by buying up huge supplies. That being said, regular citizens have been doing that for their own use. The government (most likely local) needs to get involved and ration supplies of necessary products so everyone can get some.

  168. Mr. Colvin and others should negotiate with Amazon and Ebay as to what would be a reasonable price, considering shipping & handling costs. Bottom line: Get that stuff out of garages and into the hands of people that need it!

  169. Idea. Donate all of his excess to a homeless shelter, food pantry, nursing home, VA hospital or any other facility that needs hand sanitizer, masks, etc. He gets a tax write off and the public benefits.

  170. I'm having a hard time with all the praise being directed at Amazon. They stopped the gouging only when they anticipated that the cost of bad publicity would soon dwarf the profits they were making. Purely a market driven decision.