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The Straits Times
Jan 29, 2020
Online mall Qoo10 removed a listing that advertised 30 "anti-coronavirus" masks for sale at $10,000 on Wednesday (Jan 29).
The listing claimed that the product was also "anti-pneumonia" and "anti-haze", and the merchant "US Buyer" said that the masks can be shipped from South Korea to Singapore.
It was listed for sale at $10,000 from Monday to Wednesday, before it was taken down.
A packet of 10 surgical masks usually costs around $5 and 20 N95 masks cost about $40.
Qoo10 Singapore told The Straits Times that it does not condone excessive profiteering.
"We do not condone and will not tolerate merchants who escalate prices to unreasonable levels in an attempt to profit off the general public's worry and panic, or even as a joke," said Qoo10 general manager Sam Too. "Merchants found guilty of such behaviour may be temporarily suspended as part of our investigation process."
He added that the $10,000 mask listing was removed while Qoo10 speaks to the merchant to understand if there are any legitimate reasons for such a pricing.
But he noted that urgent situations such as a virus outbreak could cause product prices to significantly fluctuate.
The merchant behind the masks, which has an address in South Korea, also sells other products such as clothing, sportswear and men's bags and shoes. It could not be reached for comment.
On Tuesday, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min addressed concerns over reports on social media of masks running out in stores after Wuhan virus cases were detected here.
He said that the Government is working with retailers to manage pricing, cautioning them against profiteering, and assured Singaporeans that there are sufficient masks available in Singapore if people use them sensibly and responsibly.
He added that there is no need to rush to buy masks, and the authorities are working with retailers like FairPrice and Unity Pharmacy to push out the stocks.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Tuesday also urged all retailers to "practise corporate social responsibility and not take advantage of the increased demand to raise prices unreasonably".
MTI told The Straits Times that it will work closely with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore to monitor the situation and investigate any unfair and anti-competitive practices.
Consumers can report any errant seller to Case by calling 6100-0315.