This Key Word Could Signal Price Gouging

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When it comes to shopping, most things have gotten somewhat better since the first throes of the COVID-19 outbreak, when toilet paper was scarce and we were all hoarding flour and yeast. We all still have to get a little creative when it comes to procurement, though: Not only are we trying to find unusual sources for needed items, we're working harder than ever to manage our temptation to shop online.


More online shopping means we all have to get a little nimbler when it comes to spotting tripwires. The Verge is reporting one such flag we should all start to notice more. If you search for an item, particularly on Amazon, and it includes the word "collectible," it might be worth checking around for pricing else — third-party sellers are using the term to potentially skirt price-gouging algorithms.

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Reporter Josh Dzieza found numerous instances of varying items being sold at sky-high prices after mid-March, ranging from dumbbells to Nintendo Switch games to an inflatable hot tub. If you think you've encountered a fraudulent listing, do a quick gut-check: Does the price seem reasonable for what the item is? Dzieza's "collectible" dumbbells, for example, topped nearly $1,300, when before panic-buying began in mid-March, they retailed for just under $300.


Now more than ever, despite its ubiquity and convenience, might be the right time to consider breaking out of Amazon. That stuff you want, assuming you really want it, is already available at a reasonable, transparent price somewhere else.