A Word About Hoarding and Price Gouging

The first time I went shopping during the Covid-19 crisis, I thought I would outsmart everyone by getting up early and getting in and out before the rush. Turns out, everyone else had the same idea and I was greeted to a long line just to get into the store.

Proverbs 11

26People curse those who hold their grain for higher prices, but they bless the one who sells to them in their time of need.

(Proverbs 11:26, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

We are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.

I remember the first time I had to go to a super market to buy groceries after lockdowns were implemented. It was a Sunday morning and I got up early to arrive before the store opened, thinking I would outsmart the masses and get in and out before the crowds arrived and bought up everything. However, when I arrived, I realized I wasn’t the early bird as a long line of people had already formed, waiting for the store to open.

When I finally entered the store, I couldn’t believe how empty most of the shelves were. I walked out having purchased almost nothing on my list.

Remember the run on toilet paper and hand sanitizer?

For weeks, even months, I would look for these items any time I entered a store only to see the shelves completely barren.

I read a story about a couple of brothers back east, who, early on in the pandemic, went on a road trip and stopped at every dollar, general and convenience store within a couple hundred miles of their home, buying all the inventory of hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes they could get their hands on (pun intended).

Not surprisingly, these items became short in supply, and with the pandemic turning everyone into a germaphobe, demand went through the roof. The price of the items sky-rocketed. People were paying exorbitant prices on ebay, Amazon and other sites in order to stock up on these “essential” commodities.

Someone found out about the scheme of these brothers and the story went viral throughout social media. Stories ran in most major news publications. Here’s one from the Today Show. Amazon saw that they were using their site to price gouge, so they shut off their ability to sell their contraband.

With a lot of supply and no way to move it, and with public sentiment against them, the brothers decided to donate their items to charities. It was a desperate attempt to portray themselves as generous instead of greedy.

People are the same yesterday and today and will be the same tomorrow as well. People are driven by different motivations, but many people are motivated by greed, looking for any opportunity to prey on people’s vulnerabilities.

The writer of Proverbs states explicitly that this is wrong. It’s unjust because it takes advantage of people who are in a desperate situation, shaking them down for more of their monetary resources in order to provide for them something that they cannot live without.

As difficult as it may be, placing another person’s needs over our own desire for monetary gain is the godly response, especially during a crisis like a global pandemic.

Reflection

Have you ever been the victim of price gouging? What were the circumstances and what was your response?

In what situations have you been tempted to take advantage of another person? 

What are some steps a person can take to ensure they don’t become someone who takes advantage of others during a crisis situation? 

 

Photo by Dave Lowe