Apparently eBay has banned selling n95 masks and sanitizer in the U.S., products that are in high demand right now.
This could be a breakout moment for decentralized marketplaces eg @openbazaar, if buyers & sellers find out about them
https://t.co/53xRnb9TBr #COVID19 #SARSCoV2 https://t.co/ShDf8o28MZ
Fuck that piece of shit. My gf works at a doctors office and they are about to run out of those necessary supplies next week most likely. I guarantee you all her place isn’t the only one running low either.
Everyone’s your fucking family, asshole. Sure, take care of the ones you know first, but don’t fuck others over to do it. Profiting off of the fear and vulnerability of others is the OPPOSITE of family. You just said a huge fuck you to the immunocompromised community. Absolutely predatory behaviour.
On the one hand, I'm a big believer in the market, and that rising costs in times of scarcity prevent individuals from buying more than they need. And if Uber charges 20x for a ride on New Year's Eve, fine -- that's just what happens with supply and demand.
BUT -- it feels like a big problem when a few profiteers are creating that very scarcity in the first place. I don't mind this guy buying a bunch of kits in bulk liquidation... but driving around to empty every store of its shelves? That really rubs me the wrong way. Same as when ticket resellers buy huge chunks of concert tickets to arbitrage, creating the sold-out situation.
But it still confuses me how there is zero hand sanitizer on Amazon right now. Why isn't this guy selling it at least for a non-gouging price? Purell will surely come back in stock in a couple of weeks, no? Now is literally the only time for him recoup his investment... while spending a couple weeks packing, labeling and shipping nonstop.
Those 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer were better off staying in their respective stores and being sold off in their surrounding communities. Unless the gov steps in, I don't see needed supplies like this, masks, medicines, etc, being distributed fairly to everyone in the market. Rather profiteers will get their access and sell off to hoarders. The comfort of having access to some of these supplies, even if they are not effective, goes a long way.
1. The point about them not actually making that much buying for $2 and selling for $20 is 100% valid. Amazon fees are $3, plus another $10 or so for shipping, plus labor, box, label, gas, etc.
2. On top of that, the business is risky, as evidenced by the fact that he's stuck with the products now. If you have a 50% chance of getting stuck with inventory, you need to make double the mark-up (actually more to account for purchase price) to cover that risk.
3. Obviously he was somewhat naive about talking to the NYT. The reporter clearly has a lot more experience spinning and extracting unfavorable quotes than he has with resisting hostile questioning. Disclaimer - I talked to the same reporter (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22575940 I wrote about my own experience here), and I've also talked to and met both Matt and Chris at various conferences over the years.
4. If you look at the pricing charts, everything was basically normal until 1-2 weeks ago. There was a small increase which is reasonable with the increase in demand. At that point, there was nothing wrong with buying from stores or liquidators and reselling. The article says Matt bought this stuff up in February, which is before any states of emergency were announced, before demand blew up, etc. I think there's a distinction to be made between people going to stores and buying now, and people who did that a month ago.
FYI, the World Health Organization has published a guide to the local production of hand sanitizer. . There also numerous other recipes available online. While there are retail shortages of hand sanitizer, bulk quantities of ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are readily available directly from manufacturers and third-party sites like ebay.
In Lithuania, Gov allowed for some Alcoholic drink factories to make Sanitizer. One factory doing 30 tons a day of Sanitizer and starting shipping it asap. Others are smaller, but about 14 factories doing it full time. Within week, the market will be full.
> Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff
> 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
> “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “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.”
This kind of behavior was already quite aggravating before the pandemic. Whenever something new comes to the market in potentially limited quantities, "clever" people start buying up stock from the stores just to put it on ebay etc., causing the product to be unavailable for any reasonable customer.
This is annoying enough, when it concerns an item you just would like to be able to buy, but when it concerns items, that people depend on, and be it as simple as toilet paper, I think this should be prosecuted as criminal behavior.
I don’t mind people selling stuff at high prices if it is in demand. I do mind front-running the population by buying uhaul-sized piles of supplies. I blame the stores he bought from - they should have refused to sell obviously in-demand items to one person in that quantity.
This guy did something that at a minimum will make him a pariah in his community and at worst could get him convicted of crimes in several states, yet he didn’t hesitate to have his name, picture, and complete confession plastered nationwide in one of the country’s premier and most widely read newspapers. Head-scratcher.
I may be mistaken but I think the state of emergency declarations actually made price gouging universally illegal, which he probably should have expected even if eBay, Amazon and that AG hadn't acted on their own.
I guess the other scenario here is that manufacturers of soaps, sanatizers, and masks/gloves are drasticly ramping up production to meet this demand. In hopefully short time, the market will be flooded, guys like this are washed out, and if corona is the new normal for the next 6, 12, or 24 months, then the public will be in much better shape to combat the threat and return to semi normal.
I guess he never thought of hiring a developer to put up a shopping site for his items? This could be done in a few days using something like Woocommerce or Magento. Can't say I feel sorry for the guy though.
First, thks guy desperately needs PR - his hero self-image makes him look even worse than Shkreli. In this case, all they'd need to say is that Mr Corvin is interested in moving products in areas with low demand, such as rural Tennessee and Kentucky, to people in desperate need in areas with high demand like the big coastal cities or for example those with certain immune disorders. That's all they should say.
Second, let's try to separate feelings for the person (Corvin) from the activity (price gouging). When there's a shortage between quantity demanded and the quantity supplied, there has to be some form of quantity restriction, whether that involves price increases, queueing, quotas or even lotteries. The alternatives are not a person buying sanitizer for $10/bottle on Amazon versus $1/bottle at Safeway, but between $10/bottle on Amazon versus either not getting it, waiting in a long queue at a store (which is counterproductive to social distancing), having some sort of quantity restriction (which is really lousy for people buying for more than just themselves). It's not clear to me at first glance which is worse.
Ultimately, the shortage problem can only be mitigated by additional production or a return to pre-crisis demand. There are probably quite a few producers who could temporarily retool in order to produce sanitizer or other supplies that are in high demand, but this would be costly and risky and disrupt their supply chains and distribution. They could only justify the move with significantly higher prices than the pre-crisis market price. Any such firms would be crazy to do this, given the legal proscription and moral outrage incumbent with price increases during a crisis. There might be a few firms that try to enter as a PR move, and maybe in some places, the government will subsidize production of demanded goods at a low price, but these are not sustainable options. By having a very absolutist stance against price gouging, we are preventing the potentially ameliorating effects of additional production albeit at a higher price.
Third, I am a little disgusted with the NYT for publishing this story. While they can't be blamed for Corvin's diarrhea of the mouth, they did find the person to profile who is maximally unsympathetic person to the NYT's audience: ex-military, lives in the South (and judging by his yard, a hillbilly), not well-educated and has a job (Amazon reseller) that is low status. It may be newsworthy that someone in rural Tennessee has 17k bottles of sanitizer, but I can easily imagine the sort of entrapping questions that the reporter used with this guy, and it makes me, well, irritated. (Anyone who has had experience with a hostile reporter and went in unprepared knows what I'm talking about.) The NYT is taking advantage of this crisis to drive outrage clicks, just as much as this guy is taking advantage to profiteer. In the process, they're making this guy the public face of "price gouging" during COVID-19, despite him being very much a private person unprepared for the scorn about to be unleashed on him and his family.
I think the best way out of this is for someone with charitable intent and the monetary means to buy up his supply close to at-cost (I'd guess $40-50k), and then distribute them to particularly vulnerable people at low prices or even gratis. Corvin himself could maybe do that. If he did have a change of heart, I somehow doubt the NYT would cover it so prominently, if at all. For the sake of all parties, I hope I'm wrong.
This guy is a complete piece of shit. What kind of monster do you have to be to deny everyone that lives anywhere close to you reasonable access to critical supplies? I hope a mob descends on his house.
I'll bite. How do you propose we distribute scarce resources? There isn't enough for everyone.
Do we distribute to those who waited in line the longest -- thereby contributing nothing to society in return?
Or do we distribute to those whose level of desire and need motivate them to trade for the highest amount of their own services to society, via money?
This man is a crucial mechanism for the latter.
Capitalism is a bitch. But it's the least shitty of the shitty systems we've ever tried.