With all the coronavirus news, people across the United States have been stocking up for self-quarantines and social distancing, which has meant runs on toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer. In times of crisis, there are those who rise to the occasion and those who prove what truly loathsome trash fires they are. Already, we’re seeing news of proud pandemic profiteers. The New York Times spoke with several, and since then things have gone poorly for them.
Once the first coronavirus death was announced in the U.S., brothers Matt and Noah Colvin formulated a get-rich-sick scheme. They drove around Chattanooga, Tennesee, emptying every store they came across of hand sanitizer. Next, Noah would trek into Kentucky with a U-Haul, scouring dollar stores and purchasing thousands of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers. He knew the big stores were already sold out. Meanwhile, Matt began listing the items for sale online. He bragged to The Times he was making “crazy money” selling the bottles from anywhere between $8 and $70 apiece.
However, the Colvins’ plot to cash-in on fear and pandemic hit a snag when Amazon and eBay started suspending the accounts of those engaging in price-gouging related to the coronavirus. Matt Colvin lamented this, as reselling items on both sites had become how he makes his living.
The Times writes:
Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.
Amazingly, Matt Colvin’s tone of the piece—which I suggest reading in full—is of a “woe is me” variety, as he bemoans that he had a plan for financial success and now “What the heck am I going to do with all of this?” He also argues that he was doing a “public service,” by making out-of-stock items available online. As for the mark-up, he thinks $20 for a $1 bottle of Purell is fair because of his labor to go out to acquire it.
The woes of this pandemic profiteer have increased since Colvin bragged about his business to the Times. This exposure put the Tennesee attorney general on the scent, and they are now investigating this as a price-gouging criminal offense. The story also outraged readers on social media.
How bout this guy sucks it up, acknowledges he did something awful and donate everything to hospitals and clinics, who desperately need this stuff. https://t.co/Wtmxmedof0— Dan Saltzstein (@dansaltzstein) March 14, 2020
1. Don't hoard. 2. Don't profiteer. 3. If you've done 1 and 2 don't invite the New York Times to visit your home and write an article using your name and photo whining about how you can't unload your product.— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 14, 2020
As the article went viral, the Tennesee man claimed he was no longer looking to sell his goods locally, but would donate them instead. Yesterday morning, he made good on that promise, donating 2/3 of his hoarded hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to a local church, which would distribute them to those in need. The other third was taken by Tennesee’s attorney general’s office, which plans to distribute those to their Kentucky colleagues.
However, the AG’s office assured local reporter Hunter Hoagland that this donation has not softened their resolve, declaring, “Donating the sanitizers does not mean they are off the hook legally. If evidence establishes they engaged in price gouging we will seek appropriate penalties.”
HAPPENING NOW: Matt did not answer our calls so we went to his storage unit. The AG’s office was on the scene facilitating with the donation. This is the 3rd stop they’ve been to this morning to gather the sanitizer. @WRCB https://t.co/SLOaEwJLOj pic.twitter.com/REJPNhiSbS— Hunter Hoagland (@HunterHoagland) March 15, 2020
From the Times update:
“It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them,” he said, crying. “That’s not who I am as a person. And all I’ve been told for the last 48 hours is how much of that person I am.”
In a TV interview with WRCBtv, Colvin even offers an apology, though it comes with a lengthy disclaimer:
Header Image Source: WRCBtv