COVID-19: Online retailer’s 170% price hike on P2 face masks is ‘crazy’, buyer says

There is no law prohibiting companies from raising prices, but Consumer NZ communications manager Gemma Rasmussen told Newshub that taking advantage of the pandemic to increase profits was an ethical issue.

Consumers who encounter what appear to be inflated mask prices could contact the seller and ask the reason for the price.

“Consumers can try to monitor prices…if they see examples of extremely high prices, they can contact the seller and ask [to justify] this,” Rasmussen said.

Under the Fair Trade Practices Act, misleading and deceptive conduct and misrepresentation are prohibited.

“A company must have a justifiable reason for a price increase or it could be breaking the law,” Rasmussen added.

Retail NZ manager Greg Harford told Newshub that many businesses are working hard to keep prices constant throughout COVID-19, but demand and supply are having an impact.

“As demand increases, the price often goes up, but that provides an opportunity for others to enter the market,” Harford said.

Although unfamiliar with NXP and its practices, Harford said that globally there are issues with product availability, which puts pressure on pricing.

“It’s always a good idea to shop around for the best deal…if people are able to wait, they can see prices start to come back,” Harford added.

Companies wishing to source face masks could consider purchasing the cheaper medical-grade masks that are more widely available, as opposed to respirator masks, he said.

Shoppers concerned about price gouging from retailers, including inflated prices for face masks, can file a complaint online at Price Watch.

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