|Over priced hand sanitizer|
When analyzing this case under Milton Freidman’s individualism he expresses that “”. (M. Freidman) Friedman’s theory is saying that when a business is profiting lawfully, they are doing it with in good faith, but if they are not maximizing profit within the law then they are going against the theory of Individualism. Laws that are set in place that become active in result of an emergency the theory of individualism applies to it as well because it is considered a law. When these third-party sellers begun price gouging their products by more than 10% than the original cost it was breaking price gouging laws. In Massachusetts for instance, “Selling any petroleum product” at an unconsciously high price during any market emergency” is considered price gouging and could result in “a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation.” In result to these third companies were being fined by the state they may have also lost their privileges to sell on Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon’s ability to stop the profit of those sales that were going against the price-gouging laws made this theory of individualism favor with Amazon. Individualism’s ethical theory would have disagreed if Amazon had not stopped these third-party sellers and allowed them both to profit while price-gouging their products.
Tibor Machan’s view on individualism differs from freedom’s ethical theory based on the fact that Friedman’s “is overly restrictive to business owners and sometimes limits long-term profits that enable owners to determine whether they want to spend money and resources in ways that will detract from profits” (Salazar 17). Machan’s views are more lenient and tend to favor the business side a little bit more but as long as they are doing it within the law. Even though Machan’s theory is less strict these third-party sellers are not operating within the law therefore Machan’s view would not approve of these companies’ behavior in price gouging their products and selling fake products.
In the mist of this pandemic there have been many problems like businesses taking advantages of their customers by selling them overpriced necessities that help fight and protect themselves from contracting the virus.
Third-party sellers have been taking advantage of amazon customers looking for last resorts of masks, hand sanitizers, latex gloves, and other things such as disinfecting wipes. So, many stores were cleaned out, but Amazon’s third-party sellers were able to get the product or even produce their own product for a higher price which really caused hurt and turmoil for people that really needed these products, and they were unable to afford them because these third-party sellers were selling them at top dollar. For instance, at one-point face masks in March of 2020 were being sold at $195.00 So, the question is whose happiness is really being maximized? is it just the sellers and not everyone because that would be egoism? According to the Ethical rule “business actions should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run for all conscious beings that are affected by the business action” (Salazar 17).
When these third-party sellers had begun to raise their prices on products that customers really needed it had resulted in unhappy customers, the government, and Amazon. If the product had been sold at a normal price the seller would remain happy as they received a sale but the importance of this is the customer’s overall happiness. Another problem was that third party sellers were being untruthful to Amazon customers stating that their product could prevent or even cure the virus. In conclusion these third-party sellers did not seem to care about the happiness of its customers rather more focused on their own happiness by taking advantage of the customers and not caring about their happiness in regard to pricing of the product and fake product claims saying it may cure the virus. Therefore, third-party businesses did not aim to maximize the happiness of its customers long term because the businesses action was seen as going against the view of Utilitarianism.
Kantian also goes further into detail and has four basic principles including being rational, not to be inconsistent or think you are exempt from the rules, also to guide others to make rational decisions, respect others and to be motivated by goodwill and to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. When Kantian analyzes this case, he applies his theories to evaluate an action and in the case of third-party sellers and their ability to respect the customers, as well as amazon’s platform by doing the right thing and that right thing is to not sell products at an unusual price or even a product that doesn’t work. Amazon’s part in this matter they resort to doing right by the customers by removing the products as well as the overpriced products that go against company’s policy. These third-party companies believed they were exempt from the rules when they were price-gouging their products on Amazon’s platform. In conclusion these third-party sellers were acting irrational and inconsistent of Kantian’s ethical theory. Kantian’s theory would side with Amazon’s decision to remove and suspend those accounts who are inconsistent with the basic principles of Kantianism.
In order for one to be Virtuous it must contain all aspect of Honesty, Courage, Justice, and temperance. Amazon was the only ones being honest with not just the customers but also with the third-party sellers by being upfront with them about what they were doing and sending them a message in regard to why their seller account was being removed or suspended from the platform. On, the other hand third-party customers were not being honest with their products they were offering to customers advertising fake products that knowingly didn’t actually cure or prevent the virus. Amazon again is the only one having the courage to be upfront about the situation and to put a halt to these prices gouging transactions and selling of fake products and reprimanding the third-party sellers because they deserve it for trying to take advantage of the customers and their needs. What is seen here is that so far amazon is being virtuous, and the third-party sellers are not. When it comes to justice the question remains because so far, the virus is still going on there seems to be the problem that sellers are able to appeal the decision that amazon has made to remove their account or suspend it. The justice for Amazon was served but these seller accounts are able to find loopholes such as creating new seller accounts to get back into selling again and when they start off with price gouging and selling fake products, they will end up in result makes it unjust.
Although, Amazon is still fighting it as much as possible it is difficult because of how many third-party sellers are. Concluding with what it means to be temperance it has to do with desires, expectations of one and for it to be reasonable. Can we say that the third-party sellers are being reasonable in any with its customers such as pricing for the product, selling them fake products or even having reasonable desire to do right. The last virtue theory temperance would not agree with the behavior of the third parties because they showed no self-restraint when it comes to being reasonable with the pricing of their products during a pandemic especially when the products were in such high demand.
These third parties had no desire to act accordingly especially when some sellers were selling fake products that claimed it could cure or prevent the virus. Amazon profits off these third-party sellers but because of their ethical values and their desire to be a reasonable company that acts responsible as a company they would rather lose out all for keeping trust within the customers. In conclusion, amazon became temperate for the sake of the customers trust and willingness to want them to pay what it should cost for the product. In conclusion Amazon’s actions, had shown what it takes to be a Virtuous business by showing what it means to be honest, courageous, seek justice and be temperate all at the same time.
The current issue is that third-party sellers are price gouging certain products during a pandemic where millions of people are losing their jobs and unable to afford certain necessities and what these third-party sellers are doing is raising the prices on these products where it becomes too expensive to afford. It is still currently happening with products even with lack of discounts on products. Scarcity is real and so many people are going broke just trying to buy food, and other household supplies because the stores don’t have the products. These third-party companies are able to sell these necessary items online but for huge markup because they know they know people are in desperate need of these products. The issue is that these third-party companies are able to sell anywhere on the internet even if the price-gouging laws are in effect.
The first thing that can be done to resolve this current issue is to set restrictions for the third-party sellers online. Create laws for these third-party sellers where they are controlled by government. Create a limited space for third-party sellers and their ability to sell anywhere they like. Setting price comparisons on the products to prevent price gouging. For all products that are manufactured need to be approved by the FDA or other types of legislative authority in order to sell online. The results of these actions could help prevent future problems with third parties having the freedom to price-gouge their products and selling products that are proven false results. In the case of Amazon, they have followed through with creating the fair pricing policy which limits third-party sellers the ability to price-gouge their products and sell fake products. Amazon also included consequences for those that violate the policy which would be investigated thoroughly, reviewed and then a decision will be made to either suspend or remove their account. The steps that Amazon had done to deal with this situation was a smart move to protect its customer’s trust.
Although there are many third-party sellers, I am going to focus on a mission statement that would be great for Amazon would be “Our transparency connects us with the world, offers unlimited safe products and services, fulfilling the customers every need, in every success story “transparency leads to Profitability” “A to Z leads unlimited possibilities.” Amazon’s current mission statement is long and forgetful. “We aim to be Earth’s most customer centric company. I believe my statement differs from theirs’s is that they also include “empower businesses and content creators to maximize their success.” (Amazon). It really speaks more to the businesses and telling them to do whatever they want to maximize their success. Amazon’s mission statement doesn’t seem customer based and to maximize their happiness over the businesses. If there were some core values that Amazon could incorporate were to transparent, honest, reliable, trustworthy and commitment to customers. While the company is one of the largest in the world, they could become more transparent with the customers about how these third-party sellers are able to sell on their website, as well be more honest with not just the customers about their affairs but letting the customers know that these third-party sellers are trying to sell fake items and overpriced items. If Amazon were to become committed to its customer over its third-party sellers, they would be more trustworthy.
There could be some major improvements for Amazon’s ability to market their trusted third-party sellers as to incorporate some sort of verification approval within their seller account to show their authenticity. Amazon could advertise the third-party companies that are good companies and help them become more profitable. With the help of all the core values that Amazon would obtain it could make room for more loyal customers. Amazon would have gained the trust and reliability of new customers by becoming a more reputable company that does right by its customers. As Amazon continues to commit being transparent with its customers, they are able to become even more successful than they already are. With the company becoming more accepted as ethical customers will have a harder time finding other companies that are more trustworthy.
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Palmer, Annie. “Amazon Sellers Fined for Price Gouging Hand Sanitizer amid Coronavirus Pandemic.” CNBC, CNBC, 17 Nov. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/11/17/amazon-sellers-fined-for-coronavirus-price-gouging-hand-sanitizer.html.
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Salazar, Heather. The Business Ethics Case Manual
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