Trade Me stops price gouging on essential items amid coronavirus pandemic

Pumping hand sanitizer into hand.
Photo credit: Getty

Trade Me has announced it will stop people selling hand sanitiser and face masks for "exploitative" prices - but says it won't be easy.

"This new policy is tricky for us to execute. We have over 8 million items onsite at any one time so finding all examples of this behaviour is going to be hard," said Trade Me's Head of Trust & Safety George Hiotakis.

The decision to crack down on price gouging comes as part of the online auction sites new natural disaster and civil emergency policy.

The policy aims to ensure Kiwis have the items they want and need at a reasonable price during "unforeseen events".

As coronavirus began to impact New Zealand, listings for items such as respirator masks and sanitiser began to creep up in price.

One listing saw a half-litre bottle of sanitiser being sold for nearly $100.

Anyone selling highly marked up items will be asked to relist with a reasonable price, starting from Wednesday.

"We have not got involved in the prices of items on Trade Me before," said Hiotakis.

"But given the special circumstances New Zealand finds itself in with the Covid-19 pandemic, we felt we needed to make a change."

If people see a listing on Trade Me which doesn't look right, Hiotakis says it's important they report it using the Community Watch button at the bottom of every listing.