Shopping Discussion

Retailer response to complaint about high cost of hand sanitizer

  • Last Updated:
  • May 12th, 2020 10:28 am
[OP]
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Sep 13, 2007
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Retailer response to complaint about high cost of hand sanitizer

I complained via email about what I believe to be an exorbitant price for hand sanitizer-- $18 for a 236ml bottle. I accused them of price gouging.

The retailer is a national chain of 17 stores with locations in every province west of and including Quebec.They also have an online store.

Their emailed response, word for word:

"Sorry this price seems appalling... Truth is we pay almost that per bottle.. We hunted high and low to find it so we could at least offer it.. The very first thing we swore when entering the supply for the Covid outbreak was that there would be NO gouging whatsoever. We hold true to that. Someone may be making large profit on this but I assure you it is not us...as a matter of fact we have even offered free freight until the end of May on orders over $50 before tax, to help our customers out.
I totally respect your alarm.. and I thank you for reaching out. If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to reach out to us again."


Am I wrong to feel $18 is an outrageous/unacceptable price from a national chain?
36 replies
Deal Addict
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Nov 25, 2004
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report them if u think its wrong.
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
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Oakville
I do know that bottles, sprayers, pumps and other materials are in short supply and prices are elevated, but probably not that much. The real problem is just finding the supplies, maybe they're paying huge markups to get them through distributors?

If you want to complain, basically everything on amazon that's health related is at gauge level prices, masks, IR thermometers, etc.
Last edited by engineered on May 10th, 2020 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Jan 18, 2013
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B.C.
That is pretty expensive. Is it back in stock normally elsewhere?

Here we have enough of it - but it's all weird no name stuff that isn't as nice as purell.
[OP]
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Sep 13, 2007
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engineered wrote: I do know that bottles, sprayers, pumps and other materials are in short supply and prices are elevated, but probably not that much. The real problem is just finding the supplies, maybe they're paying huge markups to get them through distributors?

If you want to complain, basically everything on amazon that's health related is at gauge level prices, masks, IR thermometers, etc.
Those gouge level prices on Amazon are all from shameless 3rd party sellers who can get away with gouging because they are basically anonymous
[OP]
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Sep 13, 2007
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aaron158 wrote: report them if u think its wrong.
I'm considering it, but not very confident it would accomplish much---- I read somewhere Ontario gov't has already received 20,000+ gouging complaints after Doug Ford ranted on Pusateri's
Deal Addict
Apr 5, 2007
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Kfox wrote: I complained via email about what I believe to be an exorbitant price for hand sanitizer-- $18 for a 236ml bottle. I accused them of price gouging.

The retailer is a national chain of 17 stores with locations in every province west of and including Quebec.They also have an online store.

Their emailed response, word for word:

"Sorry this price seems appalling... Truth is we pay almost that per bottle.. We hunted high and low to find it so we could at least offer it.. The very first thing we swore when entering the supply for the Covid outbreak was that there would be NO gouging whatsoever. We hold true to that. Someone may be making large profit on this but I assure you it is not us...as a matter of fact we have even offered free freight until the end of May on orders over $50 before tax, to help our customers out.
I totally respect your alarm.. and I thank you for reaching out. If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to reach out to us again."


Am I wrong to feel $18 is an outrageous/unacceptable price from a national chain?
Compare to other online stores:
$12.49 473ml
https://www.completehealthcaresupplies. ... p_335.html

$10.25 236ml
https://supplies.odysseymedical.ca/coll ... -sanitizer

$29.99 946ml
https://ca.shopatshowcase.com/products/ ... 4671343682

Overall: Yes, far pricier
Penalty Box
Jul 13, 2012
7253 posts
985 upvotes
Ottawa
More expensive than other places? Yes. However, it is very possible that they're paying a lot more to buy this stuff.
People complaining about "price gouging" are part of the reason why major retailers were out of hand sanitizer. They could get a lot of it quickly, but they wouldn't be able to sell it for the same price they did before, so they were afraid of accusations of "price gouging".
Newbie
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Apr 12, 2020
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Mississauga
ConsoleWatcher wrote: More expensive than other places? Yes. However, it is very possible that they're paying a lot more to buy this stuff.
People complaining about "price gouging" are part of the reason why major retailers were out of hand sanitizer. They could get a lot of it quickly, but they wouldn't be able to sell it for the same price they did before, so they were afraid of accusations of "price gouging".
You cannot be affraid of price gouging accusation if you have invoices proving that ur making a small profit.
Deal Fanatic
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Nov 13, 2010
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You can get small bottles of sanitizers at small stores now. Pharmacy near me sells 60ml small sanitizer for $4.29 plus tax.
I suggest soap and water alot more and try to minimize sanitizer usages. Most workplaces have sanitizer stations etc now so use that at work. Use any cheapo wipes to wipe surfaces etc and/or the cars. We’re not licking those surfaces so there’s small risk only
There’s too much fearmongering. Stop buying in panic, or go to small shops or walmart etc to buy at cheaper price
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
21807 posts
16106 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
Kfox wrote: Am I wrong to feel $18 is an outrageous/unacceptable price from a national chain?
No you're not wrong to feel that this may be price gouging. No you're not wrong to feel outraged whether it is or not. But you would be wrong to conclude that this is price gouging without proof, e.g. knowing what the store actually paid for their stock.

As others have said, prices of stuff like this have gone wonky as supplies have been disrupted. Even if you find the identical item, from the same manufacturer with the same UPC code, etc. at a substantially lower price, it could have come from a different distributor, hence the different price. If you feel $18 is too much then feel free to buy the equivalent elsewhere for a lower price.

As to whether you should report this store, read their response again. Does it sound like what a price-gouger would say (assuming they'd respond at all)? Or does it sound genuine, coming from someone who's caught in the middle of a crisis beyond their control who's trying to do the best they can in a difficult situation?

My bet is on the latter.
veni, vidi, Visa
Member
Apr 10, 2020
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Kfox wrote: I complained via email about what I believe to be an exorbitant price for hand sanitizer-- $18 for a 236ml bottle. I accused them of price gouging.

The retailer is a national chain of 17 stores with locations in every province west of and including Quebec.They also have an online store.

Their emailed response, word for word:

"Sorry this price seems appalling... Truth is we pay almost that per bottle.. We hunted high and low to find it so we could at least offer it.. The very first thing we swore when entering the supply for the Covid outbreak was that there would be NO gouging whatsoever. We hold true to that. Someone may be making large profit on this but I assure you it is not us...as a matter of fact we have even offered free freight until the end of May on orders over $50 before tax, to help our customers out.
I totally respect your alarm.. and I thank you for reaching out. If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to reach out to us again."


Am I wrong to feel $18 is an outrageous/unacceptable price from a national chain?
It is unacceptable for consumers, but I can also understand from their perspective as well. All essential items have been low in stock and businesses are scrambling to find supplies. While it is expensive, I'd say people who really need it will buy it regardless and others will find elsewhere that can offer a better price. That being said, I've started to see a few Asian supermarkets selling it at the original hiked up price this week. $3.99 for 236mL of hand sanitizer.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 5, 2006
9237 posts
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Markham
Rinuom wrote: You cannot be affraid of price gouging accusation if you have invoices proving that ur making a small profit.
Yes totally

But if you read above posts, people accuse price gouging by comparing with others price instead of your own cost. Not mention bad reputation in social media for example RFD before even know whether its price gouging

If i were business, I wouldn't bother getting it because
1: people accuse you price gouging
2: hurt reputation
3: might have to deal with government inspections
4: won't help cross sell any other stuff in store
Newbie
Nov 8, 2019
16 posts
7 upvotes
Something to consider is that in order to continue providing products to their customers many retailers are having to source out new distributors and vendors. Not only are the ingredients harder to source and therefore pricier, if you are dealing with a new vendor that you don’t have previous history with you often pay a bit higher price than other companies who have agreements with the same vendor. So one store chain can get a product from a vendor at a certain price, while another store chain might pay a much higher price and then charge the customer a higher price. It’s not always price gouging when a store has a higher price than others.
Deal Addict
Jul 30, 2003
1917 posts
295 upvotes
Toronto
18 vs 12 is not much of a price gouging given the supply/demand situation
if you are going to complain, try doing it against retailers who charge $100+ for a plain white t shirt, over a $10 for a generic retailer
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1030 posts
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London, On
17 stores across half the country doesn't sound like a national chain to me. 17 stores probably doesn't give them any clout or buying power like a large chain would have. I would accept their explanation on this, if you feel like pressing it, find out who their supplier is. Not that it will accomplish anything for you. The supplier won't care about your complaint, and you aren't going to get anything out of it for your effort.
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Dec 15, 2001
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Toronto
Kfox wrote:
Am I wrong to feel $18 is an outrageous/unacceptable price from a national chain?
The email from this chain already explained it to you. They are saying somewhere between the "supplier", "manufacture" or the "raw material supplier" are gouging. Not them.

Do you expect them to get it @ $17 from the supplier and sell it for $8 retail?
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
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Oakville
Rinuom wrote: You cannot be affraid of price gouging accusation if you have invoices proving that ur making a small profit.
Sure you can, look at this very thread. OP has no proof, but they're being accused of gauging.
Fortunately OP isn't making them, but some do.
Deal Addict
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Dec 3, 2017
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Eh I think some smaller businesses like this one are being shafted by their suppliers. A giant tiger near me was selling 236ml of One Step for about $4 a bottle, normal price.
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Jun 30, 2006
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$18 is price gouging no doubt. I don't believe them for a second they are selling at cost? Ya right. Come on.

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