Amazon faces complaints of price gouging ahead of Irma | CBS News

Amazon said it doesn’t engage in surge pricing, and denied that bottled water prices have changed recently.

“We do not engage in surge pricing,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “Amazon prices do not fluctuate by region or delivery location. Prices on bottled water from Amazon, and third-party sellers that are doing their own fulfillment to customers, have not widely fluctuated in the last month.”

Nevertheless, Amazon uses so-called “dynamic pricing,” which is similar to surge pricing. In this model, items that are in demand receive price tweaks, thanks to Amazon’s pricing algorithms. As demand spikes, prices go higher.

When CBS asked earlier this year about the practice, Amazon declined to speak on the record about how and when the site might hike prices, providing only a written statement that said, in part, “The world’s prices fluctuate all the time.”

That might be true, but fluctuating prices can look like price gouging, especially in times of crisis. Best Buy (BBY) last week apologized following accusations of price-gouging after a photo posted online showed cases of water for sale at one of the electronic retailer’s Houston-area stores for more than $42.

A search for Nestle bottled water on Camelcamelcamel.com, a price-tracking website, shows that a 24-pack of Nestle bottled water from third-party sellers has increased in price in the last few days. The price reached $20 on Wednesday, compared with $9.24 on Sept. 4, according to its data.

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Amazon faces complaints of price gouging ahead of Irma – CBS News.