The Man With 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer Just Donated Them

Mar 15, 2020 · 576 comments
Andrea (NYC)
The banality of evil.
Bert Floryanzia (Sanford, NC)
Anything for a buck. Sadly, this is the era of the likes of "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, and that uber con man donald trump.
John Doe (NYC)
Unlike someone else we all know, maybe he learned his lesson.
farhorizons (philadelphia)
It's gratifying that this callous man has had his comeuppance. It's unfortunate that corporate profiteers--as in those pharmaceutical companies that price gouge--don't suffer the same.
Martin Gavin (NYC)
One thing in short supply when it comes to capitalism is this thought... Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
artikhan (Florida)
Of course Matt Colvin (and those like him) knew that the supplies couldn't be replenished- at least not in a timely manner. How would he have expected to make a tidy sum fortune selling them at a steep markup if he hadn't known they'd be in short or non-supply? It's not as though hand sanitizer becomes a valuable collectible. He was trying to benefit from people's desperation. I'm sick and tired of these folks online who claim they're providing a service, without clarifying that it's only for the desperate or affluent (who wouldn't be as likely to balk at insane prices). A lot of people seem to develop empathy when they're under investigation and otherwise threatened. We're unconvinced by your sudden insight, unless it's the recognition that actions have consequences for which you may need to take responsibility, blame, and even punishment. BTW, I recall that in the prior article, he sounded fairly self-satisfied.
Laura (Portland)
Of course what he did was not right, and it makes sense people are upset with him. What I can't stop thinking about is how monopolistic corporations do this all the time, actually far worse (see: opioid crisis, insulin pricing, not to mention fossil fuel companies), and seem to get a lot less venom directed at them. Certainly not enough to make them stop and donate everything to charity like Matt did. Because our systems - legal and moral - don't have a way of holding them accountable. It's a strange warp in our moral fabric that is slowly unravelling everything.
p (Los Angeles)
It's entirely plausible that this man didn't realize the gravity of the situation and assumed the demand for sanitizer was just hysteria that would pass. The leader of this country himself dismissed it as a politically-motivated hoax not that long ago. Most people have only woken up to the life-changing threat of the virus in the past week or so. Some still have not woken up.
M.A. O'Neill (Tennessee)
Mr. Colvin stated "...when he decided to hoard the sanitizer and wipes, he didn’t realize the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak or the severe shortage of sanitizer and wipes." The definition of hoard is, "A stock or store of valued objects, typically one that is secret or carefully guarded." By admitting that he hoarded items, isn't he admitting that he knew the gravity of the outbreak? What is the likelihood that he would have purchased these items if there was no outbreak? If not for the exposure from the NY Times articles, he likely would still be grossly over-profiting from pandemic supplies. In the photo Mr. Colvin is wearing a shirt that says "Family Man." Are his children proud of him?
Rach (London)
I agree with all of the comments that he was being excessively greedy in buying all of those products when he was aware of the global panic and demand for them. Even if he was not aware immediately, it became clear over time and he should have then sold his products at a tiny markup or at cost to help give the product to those that need it most. All that being said, when the NYtimes chose to publish this article alongside his full name and picture, it was well aware what could happen. In this time of global panic, it is no surprise that Mr. Colvin received hateful messages and death threats. I agree what he did was immoral, but a newspaper should also act responsibly - this man and his family are now not only out all of the money they spent for those supplies (which may be justified) but he also has to fear for the life of his children - noone should have to go through that fear. Let's not all throw stones from behind our screens - that's how the world gets worse. In this time of less than normal human connection, let's remember that he is after all - a person.
Lily (Portland)
Death threats? Making it impossible for these people in poor communities to get these things IS a death threat- to every immune suppressed person in that area. He brags about making 6 figured a year, but I really doubt he has reported the income. I hope the IRS bankrupts him, and I hope and his brother go to prison. He is only sorry because he got caught (through his own stupidity). Think I'm bitter? My Mom in Western TN has cancer, and a close friend here in Portland has just had an emergency triple bypass surgery. No hand sanitizers to be found either place. By the way, eBay has done absolutely NOTHING to hinder price gouging. See for yourself- simply go to eBay, enter "hand sanitizer" in the search box and set it to show highest prices to lowest.
Calvin (Portland, OR)
Everyone needs to be humane and calm down. I personally do not condone of this behavior, but I also know that there are limits to punishing an individual for his behavior. Hence, sending DEATH THREATS TO HIS FAMILY, posting his home address online for the public to see, jeapordizing his whole family's safety, all for what, a bottle of hand sanitizer that you can easily make at home or find alternatives for? Do you know how easy it is to make your own hand sanitizer? Do you know how easy it is to search up alternatives on the internet? Im not saying that we should have to do all that just so this man can profit, but you all should be ashamed of yourselves on how you dealt with this situation. Never have I ever felt so sorry for someone who has done something wrong. He bought the hand sanitizers before the coronavirus outbreak, which means he did not purposfully take advantage of the situation. Threatening to kill someone's family and purposefully bringing harm upon someone's safety for something you can easily make is wrong. And you guys need to know that. Anyone who thinks threatening him was right. Next time you do something wrong, I'll make sure that I post your address online and send death threats that I'll kill your family, because that is what happened to this man.
Pia (Las Cruces NM)
Attempted crime doesn't pay. Touche, Mr. Colvin.
bmiller (Philadelphia, PA)
What a despicable, evil, and clueless creature! He should be punished, severely, for hoarding and price-gouging. Unless he is punished and banned from Amazon and like sites, he will most likely engage in similar crimes in the future. He may lack the moral center to know that what he has done is unethical, illegal, and just plain wrong. Or he just doesn't care! But that is beside the point. Comparisons to the sins of the pharmaceutical industry are relevant but, in no way, do they justify his behavior.
Mary Ann (Pennsylvania)
As someone with a suppressed immune system from my treatment for Lupus I had great hopes of getting one more container of disinfecting wipes. Good luck with that. I do hope, when the dust has settled, this man be made an example of, legally, so folks will know not to try such a stupid stunt again.
Citizen (Prime)
Selfishness and greed, dressed up as a "public service" (his words.) And now we have to witness his gushing of crocodile tears? He's not sorry he did it; he's sorry he got caught. And I hope some prosecutor makes the rest of his life a living hell.
Fern (Home)
Colvin's behavior is similar to that of private insurance companies, which add no value to the health care system, but make it considerably more expensive. This is why we need single-payer health care in this country.
OG snowflakes (USA)
Great news!
Zed (USA)
surprised he's not wearing a MAGA hat
william pawneshing (hemet ca)
Congrats to Matt and Noah. You just made it to the lowest rung of criminal activity with the price gouging. You rank right with the child pedophiles , spousal abusers and jail house snitches.
DL (ct)
“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.” Please. He knew when he emptied shelves in two states of needed medical supplies with the intent of reselling them at exorbitant profit that he would be keeping them from people who needed them. So yes, Mr. Colvin, a predatory profiteer with no conscience (at least until you get caught) is who you are.
R Mandl (Canoga Park CA)
How many of the people who sent Colvin hate mail have sent letters to their reps about pharmaceutical price-gouging?
Nuschler (Hopefully On A Sailboat)
Why get so angry with this guy? When Big Pharma made insulin and Epi-pens way too expensive, no one called the CEOs or went to their homes with death threats! I’m a veteran of Vietnam and widow of a vet. Our co-pays for meds were zero through Express Scripts mail services. Because of the big tax break laws, our co-pay will be up to $180 in later 2020. Because Trump stole from military money, clinics and pharmacies are closing in dozens of large military bases. Look, I think that the military gets WAY too many perks. But many signed up for these benefits as their salaries were so low. The last time someone saw my military service they said “Thank you for your service!” I said: “Did you vote Republican and for Trump?” Yes! "Mitch McConnell is sitting on hundreds of bills passed by the house which would help Americans and Vets. Don’t thank me and then vote Republican!
Steph (Washington State)
@Nuschler You make valid points. But the reason I am so mad at this guy is he and his brother went to rural areas of Kentucky where there are no other stores than dollar stores. The elderly and poor depend on the dollar stores for their needs. These guys took all the sanitizers. The most vulnerable were unable to get potentially life saving products.
Carol (Toronto)
Colvin says "I am not that person". Unfortunately, Mr Colvin, you are precisely that person: Greedy, selfish, inconsiderate and a very poor contribution to society. I hope you have learned from this experience.
QuadGranny (WA)
We have hoarders here in wa state also. People are getting even by telling the sellers they want to me to buy the TP for 60 dollars. They arrange a place to meet but never show up, huge groups of fake buyers are doing this to get even with these selfish jerks, serves them right.
shelor (Seattle)
It is incredibly sad to see any American putting personal profit ahead of the health and well being of those in fear of this terrible disease. Reading the headlines would give you whiplash when you see how the Italians are handling this by singing from their balconies and trying to lift each others spirits. Banners saying "we are all in this together" and Tenor Maurizio Marcini serenading the city with a song of hope, just beautiful. https://twitter.com/Goodable/status/1238669799800135680
Mad MD (DC)
He donated the supplies to a church when people are stealing this stuff from hospitals? Cool.
Linda (New Jersey)
I'm more outraged that Amazon and Jeff Bezos don't pay their fair share of taxes, while exploiting his warehouse employees. Those people are among the ones who are going to need help from the federal government for food and health care. Our taxes, not Bezos', subsidize Amazon employees because he doesn't pay a living wage.
Mark (Western US)
He shouldn't have done it. But he was hustling to provide for his family and he hustled very well -simply following the instincts of many a capitalist ahead of him. And, frankly, it just isn't clear to me how sympathetic I need to be to panic buying: how many people are sitting on a case or two now, instead of just buying a bottle or three as they reasonably needed? In the aggregate those people are many times more the problem than he is. No, he shouldn't have done it. But I've not been without sin enough to start throwing stones myself, and I don't think pecking parties are ever a good thing.
James McQuillan (Valparaiso, IN)
Mr. Colvin is a fine example of the business ethics of American capitalism. Too bad he can't return the supplies to their original sources so the good people of his State could use them. What we owe to each other, as humans across the globe is undermined by the "me first" attitude of the current national administration. Mr. Colvin is just following example given him by President Trump.
Linda (New Jersey)
Right now all 50 states should set limits on how much toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other goods can be purchased at one time at supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. It would be wise for people to get over thinking hand sanitizer has a magical quality that will prevent them from contracting coronavirus. Not having it isn't a death sentence. Washing hands with soap and avoiding other people as much as possible seem to me to be better options for maximizing my chances of staying healthy. I'm more worried about a shortage of soap.
Ri (Colorado)
Just goes to show that individuals are not allowed to act the same way as big business. Why not go after the people responsible for price gouging insulin with the same vigor?
Fern (Home)
"This is not who I am as a person". Yeah. Sounds like he really gained some insight.
David (New Orleans)
His only crime was that he was born in a country that rewards capitalistic greed and exploitation
Jo (New York)
Although I find this behavior heartless and opportunistic, I don't know why we are not more outraged by the drug company / investor price gouging for medicines which have long ago recouped their development costs. Why do we not prosecute (but instead celebrate) the actions to opportunistically raise drug prices to whatever the market will bear. See Mylan and EPI pens as one small example. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/whats-wrong-with-price-gouging-for-epipens-nothing-and-everything-2016-09-02
Family woman and a journalist (NJ)
Thank you, Jack Nicas, for reporting and sharing this important story. I imagine it may have been difficult finding these individuals—and then getting them to share their story—so I’m giving you a one-woman standing ovation.
eisweino (New York)
So how much did he pay for them and what was he charging? God forbid the report should tell us. What's the difference between "price-gouging" and "demand pricing"? Without knowing the extent of the markup we cannot judge his claim that he "had no idea that these stores wouldn’t be able to get replenished.” A huge markup would call that into question, a modest one not so much. How many of his critics plan to vote for our genius POTUS, who while Colvin was buying was calling the virus a partisan "hoax", delaying an effective response? How about some criticism of the stores who sold all there stock to him or of those kind-hearted folks sending death threats?
PM (NYC)
@eisweino - God forbid you should read the original article. Colvin stated he sold bottles for between $8 and $70.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
@eisweino If he bought them at a dollar store, he paid a dollar. He is quoted as saying he didn't want to be known as the guy who marked up sanitizers for 20x what he paid for them. Apparently, he did.
Daniel M. Giat (Pelham, MA)
Maybe the guy has learned a lesson. Can we allow for that?
DJS (New York)
"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.” Had it not been Mr. Colvin's intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them, he and his brother would not have cleared out the supplies of hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial hand wipes, anti-bacterial cleaning wipes such as Clorox wipes, as well as MEDICAL MASKS in two states. A NYT commenter posted that his brother and sister-in-law are E.R. doctors who are re-using masks. I hope that Mr. Colvin, his brother, and every single person who bought hand sanitizer and other products which they KNEW that were needed by others , with the intent of re-selling the products at a profit are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Every last one should be banned from Amazon ,e-bay and wherever else for LIFE. There are other who will DIE as the result of their greed. If the current laws aren't adequate, new laws should be enacted immediately. To those who have hoarded massive supplies of hand sanitizer ,anti-bacterial wipes, etc for themselves out of panic :PLEASE consider donating at least ONE bottle of hand sanitizer.etc. If you have surgical masks, PLEASE donate them to the nearest E.R. It's not too late to save lives by donating these items.
Janelle (Aurora)
When did people in this country turn hateful.? Sharing his home address and threatening his family is beyond anything civilized people do. I am an old woman who probably is more at risk than most of you and I am ashamed of you.
HC45701 (Virginia)
Telling the New York Times about the 18000 bottles of hand sanitizer you're hoarding in your garage during this epidemic is like Al Capone telling the Times that he fudged the numbers on his 1040. Hate mail, death threats and an attorney general investigation - who'd have thought??
Majortrout (Montreal)
Bravo to Matt Colvin who has a conscience. I've been on Amazon(.com & .ca) and there has been tremendous gouging for 3M N95 particulate respirators (A specialized mask for very small particulates. Normally this product would sell for $ 40.00 - $ 50.00,, but on Amazon the price in the USA ranges up to $125.00-$200.00. I complained to Amazon, and was told they would investigate. I guess they're investigating really hard, because I chatted with them 3 days ago.
Astrid (Quebec)
His conscience kicked in after the backlash.
BD (Halfway)
I personally don't agree with his tactics to make money, why did NY TIMES publish the identify of this person and risk the well being of his family.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Mr Colvin wiped the shelves of sanitary supplies in a 1300 mile road trip. He put thousands of people at risk as they fruitlessly search for a product he cleared at the retail level- you are worried for his safety? What about the people he has endangered? I don’t advocate violence but Colvin is not an innocent- he has harmed thousands. He should be prosecuted - his complete lack of self awareness of his actions is shocking - only a sociopath could do what he did.
Darquewillow Elventhing (Flyover State)
Perhaps I'm naive but Mr. Colvin sounds like he really was clueless when he went on his buying spree. By donating his supply he's helped a lot of people who need these products. In a perfect world there would be a rational inquiry, a fine that he'll feel but that will not crush him, a requirement for public service and maybe a change of the laws to prevent such behavior in the future. There has been more criminal behavior in Washington over the past weeks by people who should know better and whom we've elected to protect us. When we are past the crisis we'll need to assess what was said and done by them and deal with them accordingly.
Astrid (Quebec)
You’re willfully naive.
Chris Johnson (Saint Louis)
Now if the authorities were so diligent with the markup of concert and sporting tickets.
BlueWest (Tucson)
I vote he gets a whole lot of community service hours as his punishment. Seems like he's ripe for redemption.
Jean (Cleary)
Now if only the businesses who have been price gouging on food would be investigated. And necessary medical supplies.
K D (Pa)
Unfettered capitalism at work
K.M. (NJ)
There are others like Mr. Colvin selling in small stores that they own that I saw on the news, so I suggest authorities find them now because they seemed to not care and gave some dumb excuse and just shrugged their shoulders seemingly to indicate that they will do nothing to change their prices on the items needed most by the public during this time of crisis. Horrible individuals!
Paul (Rockville, MD)
Like many people, I had a visceral reaction to his plan. But what are we doing to prevent the 1% from using the crisis to buy up even more of the world's property than they already do at rock bottom prices?
Sallyforth (Stuyvesant Falls, NY)
I hope that guy's parents are duly ashamed. Meanwhile, the geese of America should all be scared if people start digging out their Rabelais.
Walt Lersch (Portland, OR)
“That’s not who I am as a person …". Sadly Mr. Colvin, you demonstrated that is how you are as a person. The real you is the one that slinked around the back roads of Appalachia with larceny in you heart, thinking you could make a killing selling much needed medical supplies to a vulnerable nation. You then demonstrate exactly how shallow you really are by keeping a third of your hoard for yourself. Enjoy yourself looking in the mirror tonight. Revel tonight when you reflect on what a wonderful role model you are for your children.
KR (Windy City)
But he didn’t keep a third of his hoard. As the article clearly states he gave 2 thirds to the church and the remaining third to the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for redistribution in Kentucky. This guy made a terrible decision hoping to improve his family’s financial situation. He didn’t consider the effects his action could potentially have on thousands of others. This doesn’t make him a horrible person incapable of learning and growing from his mistakes, it just means he’s exactly like so many others in this country. Our country has always taken great pride in its free market capitalism. A system that encourages selfishness and celebrates the “titans of industry” that come up with new ways to exploit others. Except when a little guy tries to do it, then we feign outrage and send his family death threats.
Patti O'Connor (Champaign, IL)
Do stupid things, win stupid prizes. I don't think Colvin's actions warrant death threats to his wife and children and doxxing him, but the reason he donated those items wasn't altruism, it was a belated attempt to cover his own hind quarters.
jane (alaska)
@Patti O'Connor: Nobody doxxed him. He had the Times publish his story, looking for sympathy because Amazon banned him for price gouging (mind you, he could have returned the supplies to the stores to get his money back). He handed over his name and location for publication, then got remorseful when people expressed anger. Although I agree that neither he nor his family deserve death threats.
Evan Davidson (Canada)
Financial loss and criminal charges are exactly the consequences Matt Colvin and his brother deserve.
C. Pierson (La La Land)
Make your own hand Hand Sanitizer! What You Need: 2/3 cup Isopropyl alcohol 91% (rubbing alcohol) 1/3 cup aloe vera gel Essential oil in your choice of fragrance (optional) A bowl and spoon An empty container Here's How: Mix the aloe vera and Isopropyl alcohol together until well blended. Add 8-10 drops of essential oil to the mixture for fragrance (if desired), and stir well. Pour the finished hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal. Be sure to label your sanitizer, so everyone in your house will know what it is. Contains 65% Alcohol Tips: Many essential oils like tea tree oil and lavender have antibacterial properties. Use one of these to boost the germ-zapping power of your hand sanitizer. Save the bottles from store-bought hand sanitizer, and refill them again and again, or buy a set of travel-size squeeze bottles to use for your homemade sanitizer. A little goes a long way with this recipe. Once applied, just rub your hands together until the moisture evaporates and the stickiness vanishes.
Kaycee (Las Vegas)
This guy is outrageous. Every time I see an article that mentions him and his antics I want to scream. To actively seek financial gain at the expense of the health and safety of others is repulsive. Now, after being confronted with the possibility of legal consequences his attempts to mitigate his actions, it’s too little too late. I think that Amazon and eBay should reverse a percentage of the amount he charged so that he makes a reasonable profit, not the ridiculous amount that he tried to justify as a “business opportunity”.
Jim (New Zealand)
@Kaycee He's no saint. But where is the condemnation of the greed of pharmaceutical companies and medical facilities which put healthcare out of the reach of millions of Americans?
S.Einstein.” (Jerusalem)
This man’s personal unaccountability (price gouging) deserves attention. Legally as well as socially. It so easy to focus on him. And will the various relevant policymakers, elected and selected ones, at all levels, who are responsible for our wellbeing, personal and national security and safety, who have failed to do what was necessary in a timely manner, also be held accountable? For unnecessary loss of lives? For unnecessary anxieties? For unnecessary loss of livelihood? For unnecessary traumas? For unnecessary ummenschlichkeit? How will what needed to be done to protect this great nation, but was not done, regarding adequate virus-preparation, intervention-planning, whatever the level of information about IT, affect the mantrafying MAGA, the minions of willfully blind, deaf, indifferent and ignorant about REAL facts? About today’s need to quarantine those “innocents” who shouted “lock her UP! About those who passively collaborated as children, forcefully-Separated from their parents, and were caged. Neglected. Even abused. The Great American (Unfinished) Wall, penetrated by a crowned virus, has walled-in a nation! Uncertainties, unpredictabilities, randomness, outliers becoming “ closingINliArs, and impermanent “control” reign as the self anointed Chosen One continues to blame others! Make America Caring Again! MACA.
lightscientist66 (PNW)
Yeah, Tennessee is going to investigate this guy but Tennessee has allowed big business and small business to operate this way ever since Lamar Alexander and Reagan dismantled the public education system. Lamar Alexander just blocked the chance of getting the slave workers in Tennessee working those temp jobs a chance at paid sick leave. Where do you think your packages come from? So go ahead, prosecute this guy. His mistake is that he failed to pay the Republicans their share of his ill-gotten gains. My mom's in Tennessee and she can't get decent health care since she's on Medicare and the docs there want bigger money in spite of their incompetence.
cheryl (yorktown)
But, folks. the Prez price gouged the US military for stays at his Scottish resort, and who knows how much he rakes in at Mar a Lago, charging us for supplying him with the finest security, who need to stay somewhere. Actually the entire Mar a Lago scheme -which is after all a BUSINESS - is a disgusting ripoff . This guy in Tennessee doesn't just can't scam with the best of them..
Liberal (Redneck)
Is Mr. Colvin guilty? Yes. Evil? No. Clueless? Absolutely. The fact that he allowed the Times to interview, photograph, and print illuminates his naivete'. I am sure the reporter was polite and respectful, but in the back of their mind was thinking 'OMG, our readers are going to eat you alive'. And just printed an objective, non-judgmental article and grabbed a bowl of popcorn... I work with young adults dealing with cancer. I refer to them as my 'Little Yodas' who have gotten a crash-course in compassion, wisdom, and humility. You can see it in their eyes. This episode highlights a culture that could use a bit more compassion training to up our 'emotional IQ' and empathy.
Paul Lebedoff (Ohio)
This is America. If he wants to sell them at a mark up let him... I'm troubled by the state of TN stealing it from him and giving it to KY. On wall street don't they call that arbitrage? If he had been GM, or Ford or Goldman Sachs the state would have jumped in and bailed him out. How un-American. Who's going after all the people buying out the rice stocks and toilet paper at Costco? Ridiculous.
Robert FL (Palmetto, FL.)
He'll be hearing from trump soon, a new White House hire!
Naomi (New England)
"Who tries to grasp too much ends by holding nothing.’ - Rafael Sabatini
Cal (Canada)
Give the guy a break. A lot of us are guilty of hoarding. Mabey, not for reselling but just to have it. The retail stores should have of had the foresight to set limits. Lesson learnt for all.
Naomi (New England)
@Cal Agreed the stores should have set limits, but there is a BIG difference between panic-buying for one's own household and purposely buying up entire lots of retail emergency supplies to resell at huge markups to desperate people with no other options.
ED (Virginia)
I wish everyone would let up on this guy. He did something wrong -- none of us are perfect -- and obviously didn't think through the consequences, moral or legal. But he has taken a lot of slack for this already, and now I think a more forgiving attitude is appropriate and would be beneficial to everyone.
Naomi (New England)
@ED If he wants to buy up and resell some hard-to-find Christmas toy at 1000+% markups, I don't care. But he was buying up supplies people needed to protect themselves and their community from a global epidemic. That's kind of sociopathic. I'm not sure forgiveness would mean much to him, and I don't see that he's particularly earned it.
Darren (NYC)
The real sin here is America's addiction to convenience and entitlement. Hand sanitizers and convenience wipes are just that - conveniences but not survival necessities. Soap and water do a better job, not to mention towels and bleach. Wash it the old fashioned way! Perhaps we're so spoiled that even in the midst of a hardship, we feel we are owed privilege.
revreq (Connecticut)
Mr. Colvin seems to be a "Trump" in the making. I have a feeling he is only sorry that he got caught. A great role model for his kids too - just like our so called 'leader' and look how his kids have turned out.
David Gagne (California)
I am glad the products have made it to people without the price gouging that was originally intended. Seems like he learned his lesson. Let's move on.
Asian gal (Florida)
People sh*t on him for being a capitalist. No one sh*t on drug companies, health insurance. You are all weak. Learn to wash your ass after you shit, use soap and water to disinfect, wash hands and it's okay to eat at a caloric deficit. He did a smart move like the rest of the Amazon/Ebay people did. I love America
Liz Detrich (San Francisco)
@Asian gal There is a concept (perhaps you've heard of it) called social contracts. Capitalism is fine, but it doesn't give Mr. Colvin (or anyone) a free pass to price gouge (you know, those pesky laws are around for a reason...) and be a jerk. It's like stepping over someone as they fall down; do the strong ultimately survive? Sure. But is it the morally right thing to do? No. It's just like we learned in school: hold hands when you cross the street, share your cookie with a friend, be kind to others.
Chelsea (Hillsborough, NC)
Soap all you need is soap and white vinegar is the BEST killer of bacteria. White vinegar at 5% dilated correctly with water and put that in a empty spray bottle . Vinegar is safe and kills more bacteria than any hand sanitizer or even Bleach. Wedon't need all these poisonous cleaners ,plain soap works well and foams into all parts of our hands.The scrubbing after soaping is most important . What about gloves. I wear vinyl gloves to push a grocery cart or pump gas and carefully toss them. I just donated boxes of gloves to my mothers retirement home to use on their walkers, elevator buttons and door knobs.
Shelly (New York)
@Chelsea The corona virus is a VIRUS, not bacteria. Soap is great to use when you have access to running water. If you've just left a store, there's not likely to be a place to wash your hands, hence the need for hand sanitizer.
Rufus T Woodrow (New England)
Got caught = 1 Lesson learned = 0 Please write about people who do the good thing first and second.
Susan (Paris)
Matt Colvin is just a downmarket Martin Shkreli. Despicable.
K (UK)
Why he agreed to be in an article with his real name I will never know
susan b (atlanta)
proof he had no clue he was doing something wrong.
Cynthia (TN)
@K I thought the Colvin brothers came across as boastful in the original article. They seemed proud of their entrepreneurial hoarding, rather than contrite and apologetic. Maybe dude is crying now because he is under national scorn and criminal investigation. His arrogance caught up with him. We absolutely reap what we sow.
H.K. (NYC)
It wouldn’t be a stretch to find that 23andMe had genetically linked him to Martin Shkreli. ;0
Literary lady (Your public library)
Cry me a river with your crocodile tears, Mr. Colvin. You knew these health and sanitation products were not a fad or "the latest hot thing." We're not talking pet rocks or Beanie Babies here - we are talking the safety of family and friends, the health of your community. It is morally unacceptable to egregiously profit at the expense of human lives.
Mark (Iowa)
@Literary lady We should all keep in mind that washing your hands thoroughly with soap is more effective than using hand sanitizer.
Calvin (Portland, OR)
@Literary lady I think you should rethink your consideration of Mr. Colvin. People today do not know the line of when something is right, and when something is wrong. Sending threats to kill his family, along with posting his address online (which directly jeapordizes not only his safety, but his whole family's safety) are actions that should be condemned. All this was over what, hand sanitizer and wet wipes? Do you know how easy it is to make hand sanitizer? Do you know the countless alternatives other than these things? Now I'm not saying Mr. Colvin did anything right, he should definitely be punished for price gouging, but you all should be ashamed of yourselves to stoop so low to resort to threatening his family and deliberately endangering their lives for something that is easily replaceable.
Dr. Robert Smale (Lisle, Canada)
No need for this type of behaviour. He should be fined or go to jail. Profiteering at other people’s expense at a time of national crisis is just plain self-centredness and disgraceful. It’s a sad reflection on human nature that some people feel inclined to benefit from others pain and suffering. Their so-called remorse after the fact, if sincere may be somewhat laudable, but it doesn’t mitigate the fact they were driven by pure greed. Hopefully this incident and several others who have been caught will send a message to other would be profiteers that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.
Tbird (KS)
Colvin created an artificial shortage by purchasing all the supply, hoping to sell it later at inflated prices. By doing so, he deprived others from buying it at the prevailing market price. He belongs in jail, next to "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli.
Deborah sedberry (Orinda, CA)
Too bad it took his “outing” for him to do the right thing.
noname (flyover country)
Thank you, mate! You don't deserve death threats for this. There are real thugs in this world who do lasting damage to the entire universe -they are living big and going scot free sitting in positions of power in the private and public sector across this globe. This world has no moral right to clobber you for a relatively minor infraction in the grand scheme of things. You realized you rwrong and took corrective action. You are truly remarkable. Best wishes to you and I wish you the strength to put this behind you . May you continue to spread goodness and good will all your life and be safe .
DaveSam (Philadelphia, PA)
I thought people would learn from Martin Shkreli and his price gouging for Daraprim. Remember when he hiked the cost from $13.50 per pill to $750. There was outrage then and there will always be outrage over this type of behavior. Regardless, death threats are unconscionable. This isn't Mad Max. We don't kill people for water, gas, or hand sanitizer. We don't even threaten it. We can dislike the man, even condemn his actions. And, because we're kind of childish (at least I am), we can laugh at the result of his actions; the loss of income due to selfishness. I'm sure the sale of 300 bottles prior to being shut down did not make up for the cost of his stockpile. But leave him alone.
Jeannie (USA)
The Colvin brothers are only sorry because they got caught.
Chris (Florida)
How much was this guy selling it for? Specifically, price and content.
Fish (New York City)
This is why we need investigative journalists like Jack Nicas! He was able to have this man from Tennessee open up and speak frankly about committing a injury and harm to society of great magnitude. Hat is off to Mr. Nicas and NYTimes staff for this important, and skillful, work.
Glenn (Arizona)
Schadenfreude. I have waited a long time to use that word.
Will N (Los Angeles)
How does Matt Colvin's attempted petty profiteering from the pandemic compare with the corrupt price gouging of our entire health care system? This is like when 60 Minutes used to go after used car dealers, outraged! indignant! and then they'd interview some lying politician, or later when they interviewed Micheal Jackson, "Micheal, how does it feel when people say these things..." A petty crook versus a serial child molester, but one with buffers. 'Thank goodness Amazon did something' Yeah, right, Amazon-we all buy from it-but Amazon has revived price gouging, fake products, selling broken items as new from whoever is pretending to be the 'manufacturer’, how much fraud has Amazon made possible? (fraud that doesn’t happen on eBay). All that's going on here is the basic free market gone too far. Naïveté is more a factor than greed. What is the real solution here? To excoriate, arrest, threaten this young guy, while blocking the sale of products that people are desperate for? Instead of fake moral outrage, Amazon should have just set a price cap by product, allowing guys like Colvin to make a few bucks. (And then dealt with any price fixing charges.) How many families would be bankrupted by a thousand Matt Colvins? In comparison: How many homes have been stolen by Wall Street, which just got bailed out, families with health insurance--still bankrupted by an illness?
Alex (USA)
We have a culture problem in America, and it's a direct result of neoliberalism.
Naomi (New England)
@Alex Huh? Neoliberalism? Do you think price-gouging is a recent development in human society?
chris (Colorado)
Wow, folks certainly are full of themselves. This guy saw an opportunity, and grabbed it.
Eli (NC)
Greed...he could have made a fantastic profit by marking them up a reasonable amount instead of an extortionate one.
m (PA)
But Healthcare can still sell a Epi-Pen for over 400.00 or more?? And toilet paper, necessities, ??.... And the list goes on.... ?? Who created price gouging??
Pat Gehring (Denver CO)
So people responded to unethical and possibly illegal behavior by using unethical and definitely illegal behavior. What this guy did as wrong and he doesn't deserve pity for assumptions made about him, but making death threats is illegal. People who made death threats with email and social media are just plain stupid. They should also receive appropriate legal sanctions so they learn how to behave in a civilized manner.
Liz Woods (Niagara Falls)
He did NOT donate them. You need to fact check because I read the entire C&D letter. He was ordered to surrender everything to the TN Attorney General's office. It is the AG office that is donating the goods. The guy said he's not sorry he did it. DIG A LITTLE DEEPER and find the truth here!
Daniel Kauffman (Fairfax, VA)
Well, god bless him and his family. I suspect there are very few people who comment here who have gone through as much or ultimately given as much financially as this man. He deserves respect for the humility he must have earned to be on the side of such a lesson in such a public way. And as far as prosecution? That’s absurd, even if it’s within the purview of the legal system. Prosecutorial discretion is appropriate. Personally, I look forward to hearing and seeing him back in the market selling things very soon! I’ll bet he’ll be one of the markets most trusted sources after this. We have a pandemic to attend to. Move on!
Steph (Washington State)
@Daniel Kauffman I am a retired nurse. But I still have many friends working on the front lines in Washington State, California and Texas. They are working extra shifts. Putting their families and lives on hold. They risk getting sick every day. Yet they keep showing up to help. Hospitals are running out of supplies because of people buying up masks and hoarding medical supplies. Mr Colvin cleaned out rural dollar stores which are the only places rural poor and elderly can shop. This put them at higher risk of disease. Mr Colvin doesn't deserve to have his life destroyed, but I will save my respect for those who care for all of us against all odds. And some of these brave souls will die because they cared. Bless them.
PGB (AZ)
I condemn price gouging but also wonder how this is any different from the big pharma business practice of overcharging American consumers for necessary drugs. It's just easier to go after the small fish and ignore the price gougers with deep pockets.
Gennaro (NJ)
What constitutes as "Grossly Excessive"? There aren't any examples in the article.
Catherine (New York)
I'm glad he ultimately decided to do the right thing. His initial behavior was terrible, but nobody deserves death threats.
Skinny J (DC)
This is not a “businessman,” this is a “middleman” operating the equivalent of a mail-order lemonade stand. And one who was caught behaving badly. For this guy to present himself as anything other than a rank opportunist is a joke. Family business indeed!
Liz Detrich (San Francisco)
“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.” Mr. Colvin, when you stockpile and price gouge, you 'are' that person. It's my hope that you learn from this but I doubt it. I don't know you, but in your interview, you didn't sound repentant or remorseful. Perhaps the concept of 'social distancing' now has some meaning for you.
Jim (New Zealand)
@Liz Detrich But we are not told what he charged. How do we know he was "price gouging"? His sins are miniscule compares with your pharma companies, and the richest man in the world, many of whose employees subsist on food vouchers.
Liz Detrich (San Francisco)
@Jim Perhaps we'll know more once the TN Attorney General completes their investigation. By the way, I agree. "My" pharma companies, (and politicians), for that matter, are suffering from a crisis of conscience - and the American public are paying for it, dearly. We need to get ALL money out of politics. Period.
Lily (Portland)
@Jim READ theoriginal article, it's quite clear.
Ryan Hallett (Maryland)
But Capitalism! This is what America is all about! Buying and selling, no regulations, no government interference, let the market solve all of our problems- isn't this what Republicans want?! Why the sudden outrage?? We should celebrate his foresight and entrepreneurial spirit.
jane (alaska)
I'm tired of hearing about how this man is a victim and a "product of his environment". There are many who grew up in the same nation, state and town as he did and did not have the thought of price gouging their neighbors and people in need. He doesn't deserve hate mail or death threats, but he doesn't deserve a pass either. And before people bring up insulin pricing--no, that's not okay either and it needs to be addressed. Justifying acting horrible to one another because "one person got away with it" will only lead to a 0 sum game which is fool hardy when our opponent is a virus.
PanthercreekJW (Oregon)
Add me to those who see that this guy's biggest crime is that he is a small-time hustler. For the pharmaceutical (and other) corporations this is just business as usual, and proud of it.
Jonathan Kaplan (New York)
Free market capitalists should have no issue with what he did/tried to do. Those who are upset: you're pretty much endorsing democratic socialism.
Liz Detrich (San Francisco)
@Jonathan Kaplan If you are against socialism, don't forget we all benefit from principles based on socialism, (courts, government services, GI bill, Social Security, Medicare, police & fire department, schools) are all paid for by the taxpayers. By all means don't call the fire department when your house catches on fire.
M. Patino (Milan, Italy)
Mr. Colvin repented, he has realized he made a mistake and has tried to remedied it. Blessings to all, take care.
Plank (Philadelphia)
My local dollar store is gouging, how many stores are not?
Satyaban (Baltimore, Md)
“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.” No, he didn't want to deny those products to anyone who could afford to pay many times retail. I think he should be punished if convicted and the same for others who are price gouging.
Sissy (Lexington, KY)
I believe this is what the younger generation refers to as a "big oof." Unfortunate.
Jim (New Zealand)
@Sissy Great phrase. I have only just learnt what "my bad" means.
Jo (Right here Right now)
How nice that he donated it all to a church, who will get to control who gets any of these items. Churches are notoriously clannish so are they going to be fair and distribute them to everyone, not just members of their church and/or denomination?
aoxomoxoa (Berkeley)
Surely his behavior, until it became widely known, was despicable. But I must agree with those who wonder at the ease with which the "legitimate" pharmaceutical industry plays with pricing under cover of insurance plans' actual payments vs. published prices. Several years ago I saw the list price of metronidazole, used to control rosacea, go from $50 to $100 between refills. My cost stayed at $5, but I assume those without decent insurance did not have this option. But this is not only legal, but encouraged. Better return on investment, even if this is a generic drug for which the development costs were long ago covered.
Lilo (Michigan)
Why is this fellow bad but it's okay for doctors, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars for medical procedures, prescription drugs, or legal work that may only take a small time to or investment to accomplish. The only thing wrong is that this fellow didn't go to an Ivy League school or get a license to steal from Congress. Sorry but when insulin bottles can cost $500 and people die because they can't afford them, I can't get too upset with an entrepreneur who sees an opportunity and fills a demand. We shouldn't have a two-tier system when the educated, and connected get to practice "free market" capitalism while everyone else is accused of "price-gouging". Price rises with demand. Always has.
Barbara (SC)
It's nice that he saw the light and did the right thing, but would he have done so if his price gouging had not received so much attention? Meanwhile, my local Walmart can't keep hand sanitizer on the shelves. It's flying out the door before it's even stocked.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
Along with lots of commenters here today, I too pile on the pharmaceutical industry. If investigation of Mr. Colvin for price gouging is considered, then surely the same investigation and regulations should apply to the pharmaceutical companies. In addition, what about the insanely ridiculous multi-million $$ salaries paid to many CEO's.
Marie Walsh (NY)
Some states already, like Louisiana already have price gouging laws on the books... that are strictly enforced.
Jim (New Zealand)
@Marie Walsh Do they apply to Big Pharma?
H.K. (NYC)
Can only assume he is donating with the intent of taking a tax deduction based on the highest conceivable price he could have obtained. He’s probably now at the top of Trump’s picks for ‘acting’ head of the HHS administration.
mm (ME)
At the grocery store yesterday, a tiny old man carrying a shopping basket asked if I could help him find disinfectant wipes. Of course there weren't any, and I knew there weren't any at nearby stores either. I felt terrible for the man, who shouldn't even have been out, given his age and apparent frailty. Meanwhile, my neighbors are circulating a sign-up sheet for people who are able to run errands for elderly or immunosuppressed folks. Many are signing up, happy to have some way to be helpful. There are good people in our communities; let their actions, rather than selfish actions like the Colvins', inspire us.
Adam (Catskills)
Sure, everybody's doing it. That is, until an glaring example is made. He'd sold 300 of the bottles of hand sanitizer. Tennessee law can fine him $1000 per violation. Yeah, I know, I know, the law was enacted after he bought them. But he knew what he was doing. Look, if the guy wanted to make a few bucks, fine. But this is gouging at a dangerous time. It would be another thing if it was buying the last case of Twinkies and selling them ten times the going rate. But Twinkies don't help in the battle against this coronavirus. Throw the book at him; make the law retroactive to the day before he bought the sanitizer, and then hit him with a $300,000 fine that he will spend the rest of his life paying off.
Rachel Thornburg (Houston, Texas)
What he did, does not justify the hate he has recieved, people that expect him to be better through threats need to be better themselves.I don't know this guy or his family, I don't wish hate on them, I feel bad for the people that do. Today was my first trip to the grocery store, shelves are not completely bare but I made it work with what they had. Stay healthy everyone, remember that we are all in this together, find a reliable sources to get information from like the CDC, also look out for your neighbors, family, and wash your hands!
sjs (Bridgeport, CT)
He has been punished enough. Stop. When he started, it was business as usual. Don't punish him for something he did before it got serious.
Will (Kansas City)
Not condoning what Mr. Colvin has done; however, we isn't the TN Attorney General's office going after the pharmaceutical industry who charges exorbitant prices for prescriptions and other large corporations for their own price gouging on a daily basis!? Now that is something to write about and do something about rather than going after one person. Typical grandstanding by an AG's office to make it seems like they are doing something in the public interest.
Analyst (SF Bay)
Being told by nearly everyone that he's in the wrong can cause a man to re-examine his assumptions. The donations were a redeeming act.
Marybeth Robb (Summit,NJ)
Good on you, Colvin. Hope you have learned a lesson. You've served, you have a beautiful family. And now you have the opportunity to do the right thing going forward. I hope you do it.
Gregory Throne (California)
What isn't mentioned in the article. Except for what the State of Tennessee seized, this guy not only make beaucoup bucks off what he did sell, but he gets to claim a couple of nice income tax deductions out of this. First he's got his business expenses for the truck he rented (and the fuel he bought for it) to get all the wipes and hand sanitizers. Second, he'll get the charitable deduction for the 2/3 of the stuff he gave to his church. Essentially, the government will wind up subsidizing his greed, and going a long way towards making this hustler financially whole.
EDC (Colorado)
@Gregory Throne Well...it will be a change from subsidizing the wealthy who are the greediest jerks around.
Lily (Portland)
@Gregory Throne Seriously doubt this guy has been reporting his income.
Dheep' (Midgard)
Very much 2 sides to this story. Not a very nice thing he did, but he did act early. What I don't get are the endless articles about this crisis. Doesn't matter what the market,what the discipline, almost every one says "didn't see this coming. Are you kidding ? Who couldn't see this coming ? This guy was just smarter than most and was trying to make a living. JUST like any big business in this cut throat nation. Even the president is out there making deals, pardoning friends under cover of this crisis. Sure, this guy should have some punishment for what he did, but really - he is a product of his environment.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Dheep' So basically everyone who does something illegal and harmful to others is just trying to make a living . . . that view is a product of YOUR environment, not mine, and not most peoples', thank God.
C.E. (New Mexico)
As usual, our Republican politicians and leaders go after the little guy and never once shook a finger at Amazon who has plenty of items online right now like Tylenol and elderberry extract (which has been shown to shorten infections), bleach and face masks for outrageous prices. Every sale, Amazon takes a huge cut. Mr. Colvin isn't the problem-he's just one guy-the corporations are with their greed. Amazon is not even going to pay sick leave for their sick employees and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Amazon was one of the corporations lobbying for companies with over 500 employees to be exempt for paying sick leave for the coronavirus.
Cheryl Richmond (Vashon Island, WA)
@C.E. Luckily, here in King County/Seattle (where Amazon is HQ'ed), businesses are required to pay employees sick time. Even warehouse workers. I wish more places would have long ago followed suit! But don't worry, Bezos will find a way to weasel out of pretty much everything else.
Pat Ros (Libertyville, IL)
I heard an interview with him on the radio. Did not sound sorry at all; he said something to the effect of "in business sometimes you win, sometimes you lose". "Businesspeople" like him should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Max (NYC)
'“I’ve been buying and selling things for 10 years now. There’s been hot product after hot product. But the thing is, there’s always another one on the shelf,” he said. “When we did this trip, I had no idea that these stores wouldn’t be able to get replenished.”' This is a lie. Clearly his entire business model is that he can grossly mark up his items precisely because there is a shortage in the stores (exacerbated by him).
Paul (Boston)
He’s inserting himself as a middleman where none is needed. He’s just decreasing the ability of our market to function properly. There’s no benefit to society from what this guy and people like him are doing. He’s just enriching himself at the expense of the health of everyone else.
John (Quincy, MA)
@Paul Actually, at the time he was buying up the sanitizer, a middleman was needed. The product was sitting unused on shelves in Tennessee and sanitizer was already sold out New England.
Ingolf Stern (Seattle)
He's not a villain. He was trained by a system that glorifies (demands) profit uber alles. He is only doing what his programming tells him to do. Thank you, Sir, for the donation. Go forth and sin no more. Love is the answer.
Max (NYC)
@Ingolf Stern Yes, it's society's fault! He couldn't stop himself from driving a 1000 miles to clean out every store he could find.
Andrew (VA)
And he is wearing a "Family" shirt... How sad that fellow Americans can be so selfish in this time of trial.
David (Baltimore)
Have you been to the grocery store? It's a mathematical certainty that somewhere on this message board, spewing rage and sanctimony, is a person with 15 lbs of ground beef in their freezer and/or an entire wall of toilet paper in their garage. Grow the f up and leave this man alone, animals.
Max (NYC)
@David You really see no difference between people hoarding supplies out of fear and someone hoarding them to make a profit?
John (Quincy, MA)
@Max The outcome is the same whether it is from profit or fear. Some will have supplies, some will not. This "we are all in this together" mantra was not evident at any grocery store or big box store I went to this weekend. Every man for himself. How is that different from Mr. Colvin?
BobH (Indiana)
@John Max already explained the difference quite clearly. Those who foolishly stock up on toilet paper (or ground beef) are simply afraid of running out. This profiteer had a completely different goal--buying up everything on the market in order to get rich on the backs of those who are suffering. His actions can condemn to death those who are immuno-suppressed; the normal shopper who panicks and stocks up on supplies for his/her own family is not increasing the risk of death for others. Clearly, the outcome is not the same--death vs. running out of toilet paper.
Robert (Out west)
1. If you’re wondering what damage Trump and right-wing media have done with all their screaming about hoaxes and it’s just the flu and Nancy Pelosi!!!! Well, here you go. I believe the guy believed it wasn’t that big a deal. 2. Not that anybody crummy enough to do this will care, but enough already. Leave the guy alone, leave his family alone, leave his house alone. He’s already taken a big hit, and did the right thing and donated. Enough, okay?
Tammie (Blue lake California)
Good job donating them..You look remorseful in your picture. I know you’re just trying to make money to live on. And I believe what you said about you didn’t think the stores would have an issue replenishing. Just remember the world is connected via the Internet and everybody will Boo you if you make a mistake. Of course any mistakes they make they will usually do under the table, so nobody will catch them. The problem lies with being caught doing wrong. Of course that’s not a thought from the that Bible,..It would not go along with that. But that’s the way the world seems to work! Sincerely Tammie
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Tammie If the stores could have replenished the items he bought, then quite obviously people would not have paid $20 instead of $1 for a bottle of hand sanitizer. Supply and demand - he knew exactly what he was doing by banking on a shortage of supplies. And making money to "live on" doesn't justify his actions, no matter how hard he cries.
Jim (New Zealand)
@Tammie A kind remark , Tammie. You bring to mind a nice young girl on a swing singing about the cottonwoods whispering above.
Interested Party (Dallas)
Such ado about something that rich people and corporations do all the time. This is capitalism, folks. Vilifying this guy is absurd, when we are all taught that greed is good and that the way to succeed is to screw everyone else and get everything you can. Americans are soooooo stupid! Faced with a perfect exemplar of the capitalism they support, the vast majority of idiots in this country protest the selfishness of it all! What a Joke!! Capitalism is killing the planet, and everything on it. Yet, the majority are terrified of even small steps toward "socialism." Such startling and profound stupidity.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Interested Party Wow, what an overreaction . . .maybe you're taught that greed is good; I'm sure not and I'm pretty sure most people aren't. And who supports this kind of capitalism, as you claim? Killing the planet? What a laugh. The starting and profound stupidity you speak of is better exemplified by the "capitalism is killing the planet, and everything on it" point of view you so cavalierly espouse.
Garry (Eugene)
Good for you! You made the best the decision! Hope others see price gouging in a major health crisis is just plain wrong!
Darrel Lauren (Williamsburg)
It’s time for him to spend a day in the stocks in the public square where people can ridicule and spit on him. I think we have some stocks here in Williamsburg and there must still be some in New England. It would teach this SOB some humanity.
Richard Scott (Ottawa)
@Darrel Lauren Nothing says a good society better than spitting and ridiculing a sinner. Lord Have Mercy.
Marko (London)
Now that he was caught being a total profiteering scumbag and having no where to sell them, he decides to do an angelic deed. Awww. Barf.
Philip (Kansas City)
Quit lying. The state took it because there are LAWS against price gouging. Then the State donated them to charity. He's a fucking scumbag who cleaned out ENTIRE rural communities of their supplies so he could sell them online at stupidly high prices.
Joe (Munich)
Donation, tax write off to offset the profits he made. He is screwing the US twice and probably laughing at it. He was crying, well did we see him laughing his butts off when selling it at $70. He put people in harms way and now he is facing the consequences. He is an opportunist and not a honest business operator. Fine and jail time period with his brother. By the way driving 1000+ miles to do this. He knew what he was doing.
Lemmy (Chicago)
He only donated them because he was about to get his arse kicked across the county and back.
Ed. W. (Kansas City)
It was only after a tsunami of bad publicity appeared that Amazon and eBay banished Colvin from using their sites. The fact is: these companies should have had mechanisms in place to halt the ugly practice of obscene profiteering on critical over-the-counter healthcare items long ago.
Walker (Indiana)
What comes around goes around.
Danielle (Santa Maria, CA)
Let us all take this time to remember that during this scary time, that we still need to be caring human beings. I hope this man has learned his lesson. I have no pity for him at this time for I have a community of over 500 seniors where I work. I feel responsible for them and I will continue to search for supplies for them and my own family. Let's not forget our humanity, and let us all pull together and help others who are not able to fully help themselves. Try to share any acts of kindness that you hear of as it tends to make us all feel better. God bless to you all and good luck.
Philip (USA)
While the actions of this man are despicable I cannot understand why he alone is being investigated for price gouging. Every pharmaceutical company, oil company, real estate developer and many others are guilty of such a practice on a daily basis. It's called CAPITALISM. Unregulated capitalism is despicable and it is practiced by many, many industries under the blind eye of our government.
Brian T (Lexington KY)
Before this, I hadn't been aware that "Martin Shkreli wannabe" was a thing.
Julie (PNW)
Glad he saw the light. I wish the story had given an update on his stash of face masks.
Robert (Red bank NJ)
The guy is an online seller and like some people who bought a low priced stock at a good price and then sells them at a much higher price I don't see that much of a difference. He did not know that the items would be out of stock for this long. He has paid the price and he has done a capitalist thing to try and make a profit. I understand though that this is different when the poor and elderly cannot get any but this is what happens in a capitalist world when an oppurtunity comes up. I don't judge the guy.
Billionaires cost too much (The red end of NY)
You're right, Colvin is not a stand in for the really bad players or a sick system. Maybe I could direct my frustration to the CEO of our "Not-for-Profit" health insurance company who has a compensation package in excess of $3,000,000. That is more that ten time what the governor earns, and he is accountable to public in a way that the Health Insurance guy is not. There is no "moral hazard" for the Health insurance companies in my state which would at least provide some shade for this.
Edna (Sarasota, FL)
Thanks, NYT. This story was a great public service. I saw the exorbitant prices on Amazon last week and refused to buy hand sanitizer. Whoever thinks people over profits is "Just the American way" just doesn't have a soul. After reading this story, I considered how homeless shelters, older people who have to shop for themselves, and home health assistants who go from house to house might be dealing with the hoarding of things EVERYONE needs to stay healthy right now. This is the best outcome to the repulsive behavior and sheer greed the Colvin brothers and others have displayed.
Jrb (Midwest)
While I abhor the behavior of those who threatened his family with violence over this, he still hasn't owned up to his behavior. He buys low and sells high for a living. That in itself isn't a bad thing - it's capitalism. But to say he didn't know these products wouldn't be available, or that they'd be in short supply when urgently needed, is a lie. That's exactly WHEN sellers buy up the supply: The items most in demand at Christmas time, the items that have been discontinued, the products not available locally. Then they sell at a huge mark-up. They are the ones people despise and for good reason. Sellers with integrity buy discontinued merchandise at a low price, but sell it at the previously regular price. If they're just trying to make a living vs a killing, they sell it at a nicely discounted-from-regular price and still make a decent profit.
Tguy (two solitudes, Quebec)
Colvin deciding on the New York Times as his PR specialist was his worst choice of all.
Otto (Berlin)
I hope they apply the same rules to all pharmaceutical companies overpricing medicine to increase stock prices.
Manuela Bonnet-Buxton (Cornelius, Oregon)
Glad that he seems to realize how awful his behavior was, however the damage done to those who couldn’t get the sanitizer cannot be undone! The lesson learned by him and his brother only came as a result of public outcry and threatened legal consequences, not by any conscience awakening.... Greed is the motivation here and it will guide his behavior again.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Tammie He is taking it easy; you're the one who's getting bent out of shape. You're just jumping on a different bandwagon without even realizing it.
Southern Ed (Chapel Hill, NC)
@Tammie He didn't make a "mistake" and he didn't "repent." He tried to price gouge, was caught, shamed/threatened to the point where he had to unload the goods. Power to the media for pointing out to others that a lack of morals and greed have consequences.
Steven Chu (Indianapolis)
@Manuela Bonnet-Buxton He still said he's never gonna be sorry about buy-ing all of these on live tv. He's just a crook who got scared of being prosecuted by law.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
He was "Colvinized" (caught price gouging online).
Dan (90210)
How hard would it be for Amazon and Ebay to simply add a block on every product that said...."REPORT PRICE GOUGING ON THIS ITEM" simple....and they have the coders to do this in 10 minutes....is it because they are getting 15%....an estimate? Anything over MSRP (regular price) + shipping in this age is gouging...Sellers will still sell massive amounts of product....Amazon Ebay, are you listening? What a great FREE PR idea.
Jeff Robbins (Long Beach, New York)
I'm wondering why state governments haven't instituted rationing. Something's seriously amiss when you go to the supermarket and the shelves of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, napkins, sanitizer, chicken... are completely empty.
Really concerned (Boston, MA.)
If its wrong to price gouge hand sanitizer, witch it is. How about Lilly price gouging insulin needed to keep people alive? This is true about all of the companies that buy orphan drugs that are medically needed and drive the prices up geometrically for no reason other than just profit. This is just all wrong.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Really concerned Good to know you realize it's all wrong and don't excuse such actions by the tired old "everybody does it, so what 's the problem" excuse.
Mark (Ca)
Is this any worse than the story we just read in the NYT about Trump trying to buy a German vaccine developer in order monopolize the product and, contrary to medical ethics, confine it to the USA.
Hendry (San Francisco)
Hope he goes to jail!
DaveD (Wisconsin)
@Hendry Yes because we need to fill those empty cells!
Richard Top (Vermont)
definition of Karma
Alan (California)
Why isn't "Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee" going after real villains like Heather Bresch, CEO of price gouger Mylan? Maybe because it's too difficult to go after a senator's daughter? William H Slatery - please try some real "tough guy" actions.
Steph (Washington State)
This is not a victimless crime. He and his brother went to multiple dollar stores and bought out their entire stocks of hand sanitizer. The dollar store is a life line for many poor and elderly, who especially, in rural areas have no other stores to go. His actions potentially put people in danger of getting sick. I am truly sorry that this guy is getting threatened, but ignorance and thoughtless behavior have a cost. If Amazon had not put a stop to his price gouging, he would probably not given his behavior a second thought.
Name (Location)
@Steph It is possible to call the Colvins to moral accounting for this ignorant thoughtless behavior without suggesting that the cost could acceptably include threats against his life (or continuued persectution for a transgression that has completed it's cycle of moral rectitude). How can you countenance threats against these people as a cost for what they did. The acceptable cost can include loss of seller rights, confiscation of goods by authorities, legal charges or penalties and basic social oppobrium, but NEVER can include intimidation, threats and attack. To say you are sorry but it's a cost that's a consequence of his behavior is not to be sorry at all but disingenuous and supportive of vigilantism and extra-judicial punishment. I don't give the Colvins a pass for what they did, but I also don't give those that threaten and harass them a pass either.
Steph (Washington State)
@Name I did not mean that threats should be taken lightly. They are a serious offense. They should be dealt with in the most uncertain terms. What I meant was unfortunately in this day and age of social media, when you do something stupid, you set yourself up to be a target of harassment. As a retired healthcare worker with many of my friends still on the frontline, day after day putting their own health and life on the line, I find this mans behavior, reprehensible beyond words. But even I would not support him being threatened. I totally agree with you harassment is unacceptable .
MavilaO (Bay Area)
Reading the first NYTimes article about Matt Colvin’s stockpiling hand sanitizer, masks, etc. while Covi19 fast infected people around the country, I wonder about the outcome of it. What good is going to come from this publicizing it? I thought. Nothing good. It reminded me the infamous BBC interview to Prince Andrew back in November. His fall couldn’t been faster. Matt’s problems hopefully will not be that drastic. Don’t oil Cartels do this all the time? Lives were at stake, though. Obviously he did not realize the gravity of this pandemic.
Victoria Galvin (New Hampshire)
Please stop with the crocodile tears, Mr. Colvin. He's only crying because he got caught. Had Amazon not flagged him for price gouging he would still be profiteering off of a public health emergency. It's sickening. Also, nice try wearing a "family business, family man" t-shirt in the piece released over the weekend. The excuse that you are doing this "for your family" is despicable. Walter White much? "Family" is not an excuse for doing things that are unethical or even unconscionable. Mr. Colvin doesn't deserve death threats or people at his door, but he does deserve the flood of scorn and anger directed his way for his behavior. He would be doing it still if he hadn't been stopped. My hope is that the State of TN pursues him to the fullest extent of the law. Shame!
ViviKiwa (Rochester, NY)
@Victoria Galvin Beautifully put!! Your sentiments are well-echoed throughout the country, I am certain of it.
Merrily We Go Along (Almost at South Lake Tahoe)
@Victoria Galvin BTW: All our money is nasty! Viruses live on dollar bills for about 17 days. YIPES!!! WEBMD has the entire list of nasty stuff right at our fingertips.
Dana (Seattle)
@Victoria Galvin Agree 100%. This is what annoys me about people who try to monetize everything and anything JUST so they don't have to get a real job and act like a grown up. He and all the others would ABSOLUTELY still be doing this if he had not been caught.
Bret Primack (Tucson)
Hey, why the outrage? It's the American way, profits over people.
La Guillotine (Third stone from the Sun)
@Bret Primack . . . Knot anymore . . .
TheraP (Midwest)
It’s not as if Trump is a good example or role model for young people! But at least this guy has a conscience. Even if belated. And Trump has NONE!
nattygann (Washington State)
He's not sorry, just sorry he got caught.
CJay (Elsewhere)
Good that he has come to his senses for whatever reason. Threats against him and his family are unacceptable. But If he hadn’t “blown” it by giving away his profit, Trump would likely have appointed him as Secretary of Commerce to further negotiate for all exclusive world rights to a vaccine.
David (Washington DC)
Good man afterall ! There are more wholesome ways to make a buck.
Name (Location)
The Colvins made a mistake. It seems they recognize that and feel remorse. The goods have been donated and are now circulating among the needful. Morally, this situation has resolved but will the public at large move on or continue to crucify these men and hound them and their families? We're all under duress and feeling stress about the risk to our health and well-being, our finances and livelihood, but we should no longer pile on this man because he is the accessible singular target of our public ire, but the greater institutional bad actors in the the White House and corporate boardrooms are out of reach and harder to call to account. Matt Colvin is not a proxy for the greater agents and institutions we are angry with so how about the public not continue to try to destroy this man? Will the public and press let go the urge to scapegoat these men now that the moral narrative is resolved? I hope so. Leave these people in peace now, journalists and finger waggers.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@Name So you (and a lot of others here) think expressing remorse after having been caught and subjected to scorn, ridicule and worse is the same as feeling true remorse for one's actions?
Name (Location)
@Billyboy There is no external objective means to distinguish between the expression of remorse and the internal feeling of remorse for we who look on from the outside. No one can really know what Colvin thinks, except by what he expresses. One is always forced to decide whether any expression has veracity or not because people can dissemble. But it is also true that people can be humbled by experiences. Often this sort of painful growth experience is the most affecting and surely this has been a most poignant, if negative, one for the Colvins so I would think that this will impact them in ways they do not now yet even understand and expression of remorse is only an initial emotion. You pose your comment as a question, but it seems you really are making a statement that this can't be "true remorse" because it's after the fact of exposure and censure. If your standard is the "true" standard, what of our criminal justice system or our religious and moral codes? Is remorse a mitigating consideration we should just abandon in adjudicating transgression? History argues that we maintain some flexibility with notions like remorse so that we don't become hardened absolutists when it comes to challenging human behavior. There's probably some wisdom to that historical tradition so maybe we shouldn't easily dismiss it.
John (OR)
Perhaps this act will allow the judge some leeway....
GT (Michigan)
The CEO of Amazon is the richest person in the world. He could buy everyone their own personal gallon of hand sanitizer and ship it to them, overnight. Amazon the company then acts self-righteous while shutting this guy down? Sure, it was right to shut him down, but is it any better for this huge company to gouge the world one penny of profit at at time?
Merrily We Go Along (Almost at South Lake Tahoe)
@GT He could totally fund research to find cures.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@GT Um, one penny of profit isn't exactly gouging - look it up.
Courtney C (Boulder CO)
It's going to be hard for him to wash his hands of this.
Philip (USA)
@Courtney C Hah!
Muddlerminnow (Chicago)
There are thousands of other Colvins out there fleecing people left and right at every turn--and corporations too--when will we take this sriously and put a stop, a STOP, to it all?
RNS (Piedmont Quebec Canada)
Definitley the odds on favorite for the trump cabinet.
Glenn (New Jersey)
Glad to see America's favorite pastime is going strong: knocking someone who's already down,
JLP (CA)
"That’s not who I am as a person." Yeah, dude, actually it is. I don't doubt that you regret being called out on what you did, but I doubt that you regret what you did,
Irina (Jupiter, FL)
That's what the face of greed looks like!
Equilibrium (Los Angeles)
The arguments that the Pharma companies do this all the time etc, have some merit. But at the end of the day it is individual humanity, compassion, and ethical behavior which will save us. He showed a stunning lack of all these things in pursuit of a buck. The real core issue is our system of capitalism which encourages such rampant and unrepentant greed. It gives us guys like this and like in the White House. I hope he is prosecuted and sentenced to public service to meet families of those in the area who lost loved ones, or suffered the debilitating effects of this illness, at least in part, because they could not get these safety products. Just go to the grocery store and the self centered, greedy mindset is on full display.
Marat K (Long Island, NY)
The same profiteering on human health and human despair is going on everyday in all hospitals and pharmacies across America. The healthcare industry should be made non-profit by law. Pay high salaries to doctors, fine with me, but insane profits of shareholders and CEOs are immoral. In many European countries the medical insurance companies (like in Germany, called sickness funds) are non-profit by law.
John Doe (Johnstown)
Cancel culture triumphs, the world is saved!
JM (Brooklyn NY)
The man behaves as capitalism tells us he should behave. Using the market situation to make a profit. And for this he gets death threats. It seems to me that companies like Amazon behave like this all the time albeit in a more subtle way.
Billyboy (Virginia)
@JM It is is much more than making a profit. But you're bound and determined not to see the difference. Ok
S B (Ventura)
Do you think he will claim the value of the hand sanitizer to be 70$/bottle when he claims this donation on his taxes ? Some people think of ways they can help out in a crisis. Others think selfishly, and how they can personally profit at the expense of others. Trump and his ilk are perfect examples of the later. Glad this guy donated the products. It was very uncool that his family was threatened. Hopefully this guy will do a little self reflection, and grow as a person.
MT (Orinda)
Lesson learned. Hope others are taking heed.
Dan (Fayetteville, AR)
Curious, one does not often see Wall Street kettle calling other criminals potts, professional courtesy until one makes too great a spectacle of corruption on a grand scale.
Karl (NYC)
What he was doing is very immoral. It's also very much typical capitalist behavior to track supply and demand and maximize profit. He'll be prosecuted without a doubt. Now, who is going to go after big pharma for price gouging the US customer?
Lifelong New Yorker (NYC)
@Karl Who? Bernie Sanders, if given the chance. Definitely not Joe Biden who is beholden to his BigPharma donors.
mollie (tampa, florida)
All you indignant people, this is what our health care system and pharmaceutical industry has been doing for years.
Jrb (Midwest)
@mollie Which is why we shouldn't be doing it to each other. When we are all being robbed we should band together and fight, or at least protect each other, not join the robbers
Alejandro Garcia (Atlanta)
Reading about Colvin in the NYT, he kind of reminded me of the character of Milo Minderbender from Catch-22; just this market obsessed parcel pirate whose ambition got the better of his moral judgement. I hope him and others like him learn from this experience; there’s a real danger in trying to profit off other people’s panic.
Jim Ristuccia (Encinitas, CA)
He did the right thing. He deserves credit for realizing he made a mistake and taking action to correct it. The guy lost a lot of money. He’s not an angel, but he’s paid off his debt to society. Leave him alone.
Lifelong New Yorker (NYC)
@Jim Ristuccia I wonder when that realization would have come if great social pressure and bad publicity had not borne down on him.
LPR (pacific northwest)
the crazed mob wants a villain to attack. didn't amazon take its cut of his profits? shouldn't amazon be held accountable too? i know i am being told to hate this guy but after reading the story and getting the context, he doesn't seem evil at all. let's keep a grip on our humanity people.
simon rosenthal (NYC)
Get the little guy..Now aim for big corporations, especially in the health care industry. Price gouging for medicines is a crime...and breaks anti trust laws.
FPH (Bay Area)
We all shared our views on his outrageous behavior when the story broke. Scorn that he and his brother certainly earned. That said, he, his spouse and his children don't deserve to be threatened with violence.
Bryan (Brooklyn, NY)
Only in a crisis or global disaster do you discover who is who and what is what. Situations like this brings out the best in people but also the worst. I saw plenty of selfish behavior during the days following the 9/11 attack and again just this week in supposedly progressive, liberal, “Love Your Neighbor” NYC.
George Dietz (California)
Why do much outrage directed at this poor lumpen who just wanted to make a fast buck off others' misery? That's known as capitalism. Pure and unfettered. I see no difference between Colvin and paying multi-million dollar bonuses to self-inflated heads of the medical-industrial complex. Its antidote is socialism, which terrifies the uninformed out of all reason.
Lauren (Orlando)
Donate them to local fire departments. We are desperate for them.
jeff p (san diego)
Gouging like this is not 'the American way.' Hoarding really only hurts your neighbor...and then it creates a domino effect.
Les (Bethesda)
From the heart of the American bible belt comes - flagrant immorality. This sort of price gouging is of no interest or concern when it comes to Tickle Me Elmo dolls, hot Nintendo games, or sports memorabilia. No one really needs them and if there is a fad and prices are inflated - people are welcome to pay it. The people who speculate are welcome to rake in the cash. Apparently, this man does not know the difference between such discretionary purchases and supplies that are needed to keep people from getting seriously ill.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
Free enterprise, right? I cannot stand it when a burricane approcahes and suppliers triple the price of pluywood (used to cover windows). That is my own experience I have seen, living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. A t least the guy donated them. You want to see real price gougung? Look at Gilead Sciences. They are 10 thousand times worse than this guy. Having found a cure in 2014 for Hepatitus C (which so many people have and aren't aware of). I found out I was exposed prior to 1985; however, the virus was not discoverd until a decade or more later. Since I quit drinking alcohol the same year (1985), I waited for a real cure. I had the best private health insurance money could buy, and they would not pay for it. After 3 appeals, plus another in court with an attorney, they still refused. Why? Gilead sells Harvoni for $1130/pill, taken once daily for 90 days. Don't do the math; it's well over $100,000. This took over 15 months. When competiytors cut into Gilead's sole marketplace cure with cures of their own, Gilead bought all of them out. They make a cancer drug which is far more expensive. Worst of all, our government loves them. The epitome of "Big Pharma", they are evil incarnate. Please think of them before you judge this man.
Lifelong New Yorker (NYC)
@Easy Goer He's BigPharma on a micro scale.
Chase (Brooklyn)
Why agree to be interviewed? What did he think would happen?
Tim Hilton (USA)
C'mon folks.....give him a break. He has seen the error of his ways and turned it around. He has paid the price for what he has done.......a very big price. He appears to be a decent human being who was just trying to make a buck. He wasn't trying to hurt anyone. This coronavirus was bigger than anyone could have imagined........including him. Forgiveness is in order.
Doremus Jessup (Moving On)
I seriously doubt if anything happens to this individual from the legal side of things. After all, our president is above the law, so why shouldn’t this guy?
Wilder (USA)
@Doremus Jessup : The WH resident is not above the law. He just thinks he is.
Luc (Montreal, Canada)
How is what this guy did any different than what airlines are and have been doing??
Deirdre (New Jersey)
An article in a Tennessee newspaper said Colvin reaped $1,000,000 from this scheme before he got shut down. While he has 17,700 in inventory he had tens of thousands of items that he wiped from communities and sold at egregious prices.
Mike (KY)
Amazon is and has been full of price gougers for a very long time. That's not a hidden factoid either! Look at most any item listed and if your stupid enough to pay an exorbitant price it's there for your button push. I have always suspected that many people actually buy some of such stuff. It can be foods, hard goods, you name it, it's there at prices beyond reason. I am not talking overall prices, just that some few are beyond any reason. Amazon website doesn't allow one to range price points like Ebay where you can go from low to high or vice versa, which helps shopping in both cases. Yesterday i looked for corn husks for tamales on Amazon, the cheapest ones there were ~ 4-8 times the regular grocery price, other items some/most will be normal, the rest can be waay high and certainly gouging. Lets get over the TN guy? Want some way overpriced Zantac,(NLA OTC) look on Ebay or Amazon for crazy prices or get it on Rx from your family doctors prescription like I did. Zantac-there's ya another gouge storyline...
ijarvis (NYC)
Really? The guy did something wrong, sure but you don't think the airlines are gouging us every day by charging $50 to take a suitcase on board and putting sardine sized seats in their planes before charging $75 more for one we can actually sit in? Uber's floating rates aren't gouging? Big pharma isn't ripping us off every day? The coming bailouts for these giant corporations - who will come to the Feds, cap in hand, bagging for money in two months - are the same ones who took their profits in million dollar 'bonuses' or used them to buy stock back and increase their own worth. If there are real villains out there, Matt Colvin, who was just dumb, isn't one of them. If Tennessee's AG wasn't grandstanding maybe he'd go after the people who really make out lives a misery. And to the people who took their own personal frustrations out on this guy by trying to destroy his life and sanity, shame on you. "Let the first among you who has never sinned..."
Julz (Indiana)
Was shocked he used his name & city in article when I read it. Did he really not understand what he was doing was not only illegal but immoral? Now he has taken a livelihood he built for himself and killed it. This is a generation that doesn't understand you don't put everything out on social media or in the media. It's not worth the 15 minutes of fame for all the abuse and anguish this has caused. He did a dumb thing by price gouging necessities in a crisis. He did a dumber thing by giving an interview.
PM (NYC)
@Julz - I too was shocked that he would agree to this interview. He is a citizen of the internet, didn't he know what would happen? I wouldn't be surprised if he now blames the reporter. But all the writer did really is give Colvin enough rope...
Dana (San Francisco)
The best thing this man could do to redeem himself is start a non-profit Org for fighting against Big Pharma. Use his 15 minutes of shame to help point out the obvious.
Susan Michael (Brunswick ME)
I have heard of a situation in the past when the governor of Oklahoma, I think it was, responded immediately to price gouging after a tornado swept through his state. Within two days, the governor warned lumber companies and such that the state would be monitoring the businesses' prices and hefty fines would be imposed if price gouging occurred. It worked. This approach should be firm policy whenever price gouging rears its ugly head.
JK (New Jersey)
While Matt Colvin obviously wanted to take advantage of the situation and make some profit, it seems unreasonable to send death threats and hate messages to him. He did the right thing now by donating the stock. Hope people realize that forgivenesses is still a thing. God bless us all.
Sam (Ithaca)
I don't have any sympathy for this dude, but I think the systemic problem isn't with him— you can always rely on someone greedy trying to game the system. There should be an earlier emergency policy forcing retailers to limit the number of emergency items they sell to one person. Lives will likely be lost because older people were not able to find hand sanitizer or masks within the radius they could travel.
Peter Mortensen (Holbaek, Denmark)
There is a deadly virus, which is killing and threatens to kill horrible numbers of human beings globally, coming, and there are people who withhold sanitisers to score a profit because of people´s understandable anxiety AND there are people who DEFEND those persons´ gouging, claiming that that move is just a matter of supply and demand? Sometimes - increasingly too often, I am afraid - I do not understand many Americans. "Dusting off our economics textbooks" - come on!
Stephen Moore (Albuquerque)
many people sell on ebay (I'm not sure about Amazon) and never pay a dime of federal or state income tax on what may be a significant amount of income in the underground economy. While I'm not concerned about the small-time sellers, I would hope the IRS would go after people like this with a vengeance!
Tonjo (Florida)
In a previous article he mentioned that consumer laws were not made for the things he is doing buying and selling. The laws were made to contain stores like 'Billie Bob'. He got caught trying to cheat and he should pay a price that others will think twice before they do such an awful thing against those in need. Many of these cheating activities goes on here in Florida during the hurricane season.
The Judge (Washington, DC)
I condemn profiteering in a crisis, but the hate being directed at Matt Colvin is over the top. It seems to me that Matt Colvin is just a guy trying to make do in an economy that lost its moorings in 2008 and never really recovered. He made a mistake and made amends pretty quickly, so let's cut the guy some slack and keep our focus where it should be: on our political leaders, our institutions, and large firms.
Steve (Idaho)
@The Judge he is a business owner. The guys Trump and Republicans keep telling us are job creators and should be receiving massive tax credits. Do you honestly think he would have behaved any differently if he was working for one of those large firms? He would be more than happy to work for a company that makes epipens and set exorbitant prices. And you would probably find some excuse for him then too.
J Darby (Woodinville, WA)
@The Judge Yes, he made "amends" after he got caught and was shut down. Very noble.
Cp (Ny)
Supply train goes up too, not down always. If anyone (since corporations are “people too,”) should be doing anything at all is to ramp up production rather than keep a limited supply in the availability train.
DaveD (Wisconsin)
We're not talking cancer meds here. Hand cleanser gel with alcohol isn't available around here at all. Colvins did this too?
Susan Dorn (Santa Fe, NM/Houston, TX)
There is a difference between doing the right thing and doing the right thing when you're caught. Apparently a crisis such as this brings out the best in humanity and also the worst.
Ben Cullen (Oakland CA)
Thank you, Matt, for finding the light. We are more than the worst thing we've ever done, and I hope this experience shows you something deeper about what it means to be human together. I forgive you for the harm capitalism has done to you, and I hope you learn to see others with concern in your heart and profit.
Patricia A (Los Angeles)
The irony is that he’s doing exactly what large pharmaceutical corporations have been doing for years in the United States. The only difference is that he does not have enough money or callousness to insulate himself from public disgust. I disapprove of what he did. That said, he is modeling behavior touted as a best business practice by Silicon Valley, Big Pharma & others: gouge captive markets. And let us all take note: if capping prices for drugs really ate into corporate profits, Big Pharma wouldn’t be selling drugs to this countries which cap prices.
The Judge (Washington, DC)
@Patricia A Big Pharma can cut deals on drug prices in Europe and elsewhere because they can make up the lost margin by charging Americans more. In this sense, the USA has been subsidizing drug costs for people in other countries.
Steve (Idaho)
@The Judge rubbish, do you have any evidence at all for this absurd claim that Big Pharma is losing money on its foreign sales? Any? Martin Shkreli is that you?
CSR (Kansas)
To confirm, Tennessee's price-gouging law activates once a state of emergency has been declared, but the Colvin brothers neither purchased their stock nor sold it after the declaration? This stock has now also been donated? Seems like no one has evidence the Colvins have committed or have the ability to commit this crime. In contrast, ironically, to the those who clearly broke the law by sending death threats to the Colvin family. I don't condone the actions of the Colvins. They should have been able to morally differentiate between hoarding toys and sanitizers. They've paid a price through suspension on Amazon and eBay, loss of their stock, and social ostracism. But I would now hope the Tennessee AG office has better things to do with its time.
JohnJ (Missouri)
@CSR Well put, and I concur. It's important to remember that we know little but have assumed much (quite possibly erroneously) about this young man's life, loves, or aspirations - his character. We tend to assume those traits must be defective because of his misguided entrepreneurial effort. However, we all make mistakes, and it certainly sounds as if he's recognized and owned up to his. He's lost his livelihood as well, so I'm disinclined to "pile on."
Steve (Idaho)
@CSR you do condone their actions. Stop pretending you don't.
CSR (Kansas)
@Steve No, I believe that the loss of livelihood and national reputation is a sufficient punishment for his actions and discourages others from doing something similar in the future. I see no virtue in further internet mob justice.
D Todorovic (Ontario, Canada)
He should get zero credit for donating these items. He knows the difference between right and wrong and he chose wrong.
JM (San Francisco)
@D Todorovic I'm sure Colvin thought... So what would President Donald Trump do to capitalize on this global pandemic?. Since Colvin could not restrict test kits to keep the "numbers low" for political capital, he chose hoarding critical supplies to resell at outrageous prices.
Scott Lyford (San Antonio, Texas)
@D Todorovic Were life so simple. It’s not. Justice should always be tempered with mercy. Apply Hanlon’s Razor. There is a difference between stupid and evil.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
Read my post about Gilead Sciences (pardon the mispellings; I rushed through).
Eve S. (Manhattan)
How many people were unable to stay safe while this man hoarded his loot? How many cases of infection will that translate into? Criminal charges are warranted; in wartime, profiteering is a serious crime. But no doubt there are many other people who have done the same thing, and they need to be found and prosecuted.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
The west is all about Right and wrone; black and white. In the East, it's far more grey (and real). This is how the world is. Look at my post about Gilead Sciences (pardon the grammatical errors in it) before you pass judgment on this guy. At lkeast he donated all of them. People love frontrunners. "Kick 'em while they are down". Gilead makes him look like a grain of sand. They are the most evil of all in "Big Pharma". Worst of all, what they do is not only legal, it is helped bu huge tax breaks. I don't cast aspersions where I don't know the entire story. I know all about price gouging in times of crisis. Gilead does it every day. Take a little time and look what they charge for Sovaldi, Harvoni ($1130/pill, take once daily for 90 days) and other hepatitis C cures. Even worse are their cancer drug costs. Mind boggling. Take the time to do a little research. I know all abiout them first hand. I posted about this (poor grammar as I was in a rush).
Eve S. (Manhattan)
@Easy Goer Nice deflection. The cost of pharmaceuticals is certainly worthy of a strong response--and is part of the debate about reforming our health-care system. It is well-known, of course. It has no bearing on individual profiteers, nor does it excuse them.
Jeff K (Atlanta)
Prices are supposed to go up when there's a shortage of a valuable product. The higher prices encourage us to buy only what we need and they also stimulate more production. This is just the operation of a market. Now, there have always been crowds of people who react violently to this fact of economic life and who literally want to *kill* the suppliers and sellers and entrepreneurs who supposedly are taking advantage of the situation. But rather than being an angry mob, we should dust off our economics textbooks, read about the value of arbitrage, and question our own outrage for a moment.
Steve (Idaho)
@Jeff K prices go up when there is an actually limited supply. He created the limited supply by purchasing every single hand sanitizer he could by driving all over two states and taking every item off of the shelf and then locking them in his garage. He intentionally created an artificially scarcity to allow him to price gouge on something that is needed for health and safety. Yes people become violent when you horde medicine and block access to those who need it unless they pay outrageous sums for it. This is not level playing field capitalism or an example of entrepreneurial innovation. This is no different than charging a fee to access the life boats on the Titanic as it is sinking.
Sam (Ithaca)
@Jeff K you've been brainwashed into thinking that certain things are "facts of economic life" when they're just byproducts of a very local, arbitrary and imperfect system. The forces you describe (stimulating production through scarcity) take too long to take effect compared to the speed of a virus.
John (Central Illinois)
@Jeff K Poppycock. The so-called market you describe exists only in those econ textbooks you want dusted off. In real life, with which economic theory has great difficulty, any number of factors disrupt and skew distribution, usually to the benefit of the already advantaged. This gentleman's actions are a perfect illustration of how apparently rational *individual* economic behavior had decidedly negative *social* consequences.
Steve (Idaho)
Who really believes this is his first time price gouging? This is just the first time he has been caught.
Alan Frank (Kingston, PA)
@Steve i like to think he learned a valuable lesson.
Maureen (Denver)
I'd like to help this guy out. I hope his Venmo handle is printed herein. I will look for it. He did what any enterprising business person does, try to ride supply versus demand, and he did that before we all knew the gravity of the situation.
Pat (Somewhere)
@Maureen PT Barnum understood you perfectly.
JL22 (Georgia)
If Mr, Colvin had manufactured his own product and wanted to sell it at unfair prices, I could be a little more forgiving, but he removed the public's opportunity to remain well for his own profit. People who can't afford his prices were at risk of death. That greed is stunning. I'm glad he donated the products. Maybe he won't make that mistake again after losing money on it.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Mr Colvin and his brother spent weeks wiping the shelves of the US and at no time did they or their family or their friends question their actions. They thought they were brilliant - they congratulated themselves- it is a real strike against critical thinking and morality that no one in his circle thought what he was doing would hurt people. Self absorbed doesn’t even begin to explain it.
Ralph Spillenger (Malta, NY)
@Deirdre Welcome to capitalism in the age of Trump
The Judge (Washington, DC)
@Deirdre Wiping the shelves of the US? This is a country of 330 million people. He stockpiled 17.7K bottles. That is hardly "wiping the shelves." Let's keep a bit of perspective here, please.
skier 6 (Vermont)
My wife, a retired nurse will likely be called back to work in a hospital, with limited or inadequate PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment. Maybe Mr. Colvin, can send some of the N-95 masks he's been hoarding to our home, or at least our local Hospital.
Alan Frank (Kingston, PA)
@skier 6 I bet he does
comengedit (san francsico)
Most of us would reach for, perhaps, an extra bottle or two of hand sanitizer in the store, perhaps thinking of a friend, family-memberor neighbor who might need one. Most of us would not sweep an entire category of items into our basket and head foer checkout? My grocery store in San Francisco still has a pretty good stock of hand sanitizer because, realizing that it only takes one Mr. Colvin to spoil things for the rest of us, they ration. You may purchase two of precious little bottles. I believe that left to our own devices, and even when no one is watching, we will do the right thing. I don't condemn Mr. Colvin, but I condemn his greed in this. On another day, he might be the guy who stops to help you fix your flat tire. This pandemic challenges us all to be at our most caring and humane.
JM (San Francisco)
@comengedit I must be a victim of Colvin's greedy scheme. I'm 72 and went to my local Dollar Store to buy a bottle of hand sanitzer to keep in my car. Colvin must have hit my nearby Dollar Store because the clerk explained they were out of sanitizer because two guys came in and cleared their shelf of 600+ bottles all at once. What I say to Colvin is: Bad Karma.
SR (PA)
@comengedit I’m in Pennsylvania and we have no hand sanitizer.
Sam (CA)
Buying off essentials with the intent to resell in an emergency should itself be a crime not matter how much markup there is. This person created a crisis situation when many people needed these essential supplies to safeguard themselves. He needs to be prosecuted and sent to prison....and yes the same needs to happen to pharma executives.
g (New York, NY)
The price gouger's behavior was shameful. But I'm curious why the stores that he cleaned out of their product allowed him to buy up everything on their shelves? Once, I saw a man try to do that in a Target, only to be stopped at the register by a manager who forcefully told him that Target is not a wholesaler. At the time, I wasn't sure that the manager was right, but now I see why he did it, and why every other store should do it, too. We can't have a retail marketplace where anyone could just buy up the entire supply and sell it on their own at a huge markup. That only benefits those who are already well-off, and it leaves the rest of us deprived of supplies during an emergency. Laws will certainly be passed in the wake of this pandemic, and I think one of them should be to ban this kind of third-party, gray-market selling. It's simply not in the best interest of the general public. If you want to open a store, then do it the honest way, establish your own supply chain with manufacturers, etc. But getting in a van and cleaning out every retail store in a 50-mile radius to sell their products from your garage? That can't be the answer.
JM (San Francisco)
@g Part time Dollar Store clerks are not as saavy as Target managers.
Jordan (Callais)
The optics are not great, but I can't help but wonder what would be better - NOT having access to hand sanitizer at all as we currently do in NYC, or having the option to pay $20 for 2 bottles and feel a bit more secure? As the original article explained, Colvin was purchasing much of his product from low population areas with an oversupply of these items. There were inefficiencies in the market - he found an opportunity to correct that and was able to compensate himself for it. Lobster is a lot cheaper in Maine where you are at the source, but we are willing to pay multiples in order to have access to lobster across the country. Do we skewer restaurants who layout money to ship lobster across the country so that you can have it fresh on your table but charge a significant markup for the effort? No. $20 in NYC is 4 cups of Starbucks, half a SoulCycle class, 1 8-pk of paper towels, or the cost of a burger at a sit down restaurant. Its something many of us can afford, and would be willing to pay in order to make ourselves feel safer. Stop acting so noble and offended - many of you would happily buy at this price if it were available to you.
Eve S. (Manhattan)
@Jordan The issue isn't the price, or even the gouging. The issue is that he made sanitizer unavailable to everyone else at a crucial moment. That's why war profiteering is both a crime and immoral. Of course, high prices do also mean that poor people are less safe. Is that ok with us?
The Judge (Washington, DC)
@Eve S. He stockpiled 17.7K bottles by buying up retail supplies from vendors in 2 states. I expect that the annual sales volume for hand sanitizer in a "non-crisis" year is in the millions of units (hand sanitizer is a multi-billion dollar business). Mr. Colvin did not make "santitizer unavailable to everyone else." Let's try to trim the hyperbole, please.
JM (San Francisco)
@Jordan Sellers were charging far more than $20 on the sites I visited earlier on Amazon.
asha (brooklyn,n.y.)
There are people like this all over the world who only think of themselves. They have no morals. No empathy, no kindness. All this to make a buck while people are dying all over including medical workers who are short of supplies. My question is Why did it take Amazon and EBay so long to ban him? Aren't there guidelines for Gouging? In a Pandemic? I went on the sites when I couldn't find supplies at 6 stores repeatedly. I couldn't believe the prices. I finally made my own sanitizer. And why did it take the Attorney General so long to declare it an emergency? There should be National Guidelines set in motion immediately in Healthcare Emergencies and people who don't obey should be fined, jailed and displayed and named prominently for all to see. Shaming does have some effect on Psychopaths
WS (CA)
Due to tremendous societal pressure, this man saw the error of his ways. But, I'm glad that Tennessee is going after him for price gouging. So why can't the Government apply price gouging laws to surprise hospital billing? When ER docs etc. are out of network, at your in-network hospital, trust me, you won't be happy with the thousands of dollars on your bill that won't be covered. Thanks, Uncle Sam.
JM (San Francisco)
@WS They SAY they willl go after Colvin for price gouging but they won't. Thats just to scare off other people from gouging. During the 2008 financial collapse, the Govt knew the exact names of those who consistently falsified securities ratings to inflate their value.. but no one went to jail....no one was even charged. I do blame Obama for no one being prosecuted. Nothing prevents them from doing the same again.
Jackson Morris (Omaha NE)
Regardless of the severity of a crisis, resorting to hate mail and threats is deplorable. By buying up thousands hand sanitizer and wipes, Mr. Colvin removed much-needed hygienic products from the public market and then decided to resell at an enormous profit. That’s wrong, and you should feel strongly against that. But death threats? We are a worldwide community working to strengthen our bonds rather than exacerbate our differences. Mr. Colvin should have been asked to understand this crisis and hear the stories of those affected by it. Not be plagued with the possibility of becoming one himself.
J111111 (Toronto)
Smartphone contagion? Out of curiosity, just stretched Glad Wrap around mine, and it works fine. Things getting worse, a disposable penny's worth will save scrubbing the germs off the phone with Comet Cleanser and steel wool.
rd (Denver)
@J111111 Thanks for the idea! I’m going to buy-up all the Glad Wrap in a 50 mile radius!
N (Texas)
He did do the right thing, but what about the money he made before he was busted? Is he keeping that?
Ellen (Colorado)
Matt is lying when he says he didn't know the supplies would be unavailable. Of course he knew! The whole basis of gouging with inflated prices is based on the fact that people can no longer access the product! If they could, his whole gouging scheme wouldn't work. And he creates the unavailability, by cleaning out the supply. I hope he finds an honest and moral way of making a living.
JM (San Francisco)
@Ellen Just like Trump says he "did not know" that he eliminated his own Pandemic Response Team in 2018 (simply because Obama had initiated it). Vengeance: Drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Jonathan (Boston, MA)
As the pharmaceutical industry has shown, price gouging is as American as apple pie. As far as I'm concerned, Colvin's sins are expunged now that he's donated his stash of hand sanitizer, etc.
Bella (The City Different)
@Jonathan Oh so right...this guy is small potatoes while drug companies do this and nobody gets this worked up.
Mimi (San Francisco)
Mr. Colvin "donated" these items only after it became clear he might face legal liability for his actions. I'm not reassured by his sudden change of heart; this is not altruism, it's naked self-interest.
Biddy (Illinois)
Matt Colvin had a greedy impulse and then made things right. He sets a great example. Let’s see big pharma slash prices on cheap generics they monopolize.
Jennifer Ward (Orange County, NY)
I'm sure he is just an example of thousands of unscrupulous folks doing this sort of social undercutting. We need a national response protocol where retailers are instructed to limit the sale of certain sensitive items to any individual, and it is required to be instituted into their computerized system. IE, on any one individuals credit or store card, the system will not allow more than a reasonable amount of each sensitive item may be purchased. The list would include much needed items such as disinfectants, medicines, masks, water toilet paper. paper towels, baby formula, milk, eggs, bread etc. etc...
J Darby (Woodinville, WA)
First refund all those he gouged, plus 30%. Second, donate ALL materials to areas he plundered. Lastly, stiff fine (high 5 figures) and just under a year in lockup (so he does time in country rather than state).
Delta (Washington)
@J Darby I'm always amused by how quickly we come up with punishments for individuals while overlooking far, far more damaging actions by banks and pharma companies. Let's start locking up CEOs and board members, first. People who cost millions of people their homes, their life savings, sometimes their very lives. Then we can worry about people price gouging hand sanitizer.
TW (Northern California)
@Delta I agree.
Steve (Idaho)
@Delta sure, sounds good. Go ahead. We can punish both criminals. Not certain why you think the existence of more crime means its ok to be a criminal.
Doug Leen (Kupreanof, Alaska)
This is unfettered capitalism at its finest. Our entire industry is built upon this model from the pharmacies to airlines. If we had a universal health care system, perhaps these hoarding behaviors wouldn't happen.
Olive H (Boston)
It makes me sad that "a former Air Force technical sergeant" does not have better employment options than selling consumer products on Amazon.
comengedit (san francsico)
Question: At what point, price break, percentage or margin does an action cross the legal threshold to qualify as "gouging"? To me, and not that I condone Mr. Colvin's garden variety greed, what has he done that violates the principles of the market? He's not the Hunt Brothers cornering the silver market, he's just a greedy guy using the mechanisms of the market for profit. Look..you and I all know that what he attempted to do here is gouging. We know it when we experience it. But my main question is: Where is the borderline between our (accurate) perception of Mr. Colvin's less than good-neighbor actions, and the legal threshold?
Steve (Idaho)
@comengedit the Hunt brothers were just greedy guys using the mechanisms of the market for profit. I think his neighbors will do just fine at trial determining if he was price gouging.
Marie (Boston)
"he didn’t realize the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak or the severe shortage of sanitizer and wipes" Really? I don't believe it. He set out to buy all he could get the day after the first coronavirus death in the US. When it was already known what the effects were elsewhere. And if he didn't, as he claims now, to know the gravity then why did he take it all. If you take it all so people have to come to you and pay your price that is extortion. Or, in this case, like kidnapping and asking for ransom. "FAMILY MAN Family Business" T shirt. Family values for sure.
Sarah (Danbury, CT)
Because of his the publicized investigation into Mr. Colvin's stockpile, the cost of disinfectant wipes on eBay has dropped by half since Sunday (yesterday). Wipes cost $30 per canister yesterday; now they're in the neighborhood of $15. The focus on his actions by the criminal justice system is making life a little easier for the rest of the population. Or at least, those who can afford $15 for germ-killing wipes. I say it's worth it, not that I harbor any ill-will toward Colvin (I save my hate for the oligarchs). What I don't get is why the Times reported eBay put a stop to the price-gouging days ago. What was the going price on Thursday?
Portia Jeffries (Oregon)
I tried to buy paper towels on Amazon yesterday because Costco was out. The prices were insane, what you'd expect on a black market. There were 6-packs for anywhere between $20 to over $40 and someone was trying to sell a single roll for $9. I wondered why Amazon let this go on but when I checked an hour later prices had started coming down and some offers had disappeared, perhaps a result of this article. On the other hand, a vendor based in China was "smart" and started selling an alternate brand at a very low price. I bought some. Cross my fingers I don't regret it. Still, I hope gouge/undercut doesn't become the economic order for the duration. Amazon can emerge from this crisis with an enhanced reputation if they work hard to keep on top of these vendors. There'll be fewer death threats too.
Ann Berry (New York)
@Portia Jeffries Amazon has become a third party marketplace with little oversight. Both Amazon and Ebay could have immediately put a stop to any gouging as each monitors prices but they chose profits over morality. Boycott both.
Maisie (KY)
He’d better donate some to the prison where he should be spending a few years.
willemv (Santa Monica)
What a humanitarian
JB (NH)
I'm glad he has redeemed himself somewhat. Spurred on by the American hyper-capitalist pressure to turn every situation into a money-making opportunity, he did what he thought would make him rich. His behavior was selfish and immoral, but I believe him when he says he didn't realize the implications of what he was doing. I hope this is a lesson for other who are behaving in similarly exploitative ways during this crisis. Instead of exploiting this crisis, let's help each other. (And that also applies to governments who intend to buy access to a potential covid-19 vaccine so that they can deny it to the rest of the world.)
Marie (Boston)
@JB - "I'm glad he has redeemed himself somewhat." Criminals always show remorse when they are caught. Their stories change to fit the need. And they try to weasel out of it. Just as we have seen in this current administration and foundation for example. Before anyone points out that he probably didn't break any laws what he did in this time was a crime against humanity even if there is no law.
PWR (Malverne)
@JB Colvin didn't redeem himself at all. He had no choice but donate the supplies after he was caught profiteering. Otherwise he would have happily pocketed his profits. Even after he was exposed, Colvin tried to justify his actions.
Jodrake (Columbus, OH)
@JB He redeemed himself after he was caught.
DesertFlowerLV (Las Vegas, NV)
Glad to see the Colvin Bros. getting the scorn they earned. Beyond that, for the last two weeks, every time I've gone to the store - Costco, WinCo, Target, Smith's - I've seen people with overflowing carts. When are these companies going to put an end to the hoarding? Right now, it's impossible to buy any virus-fighting product anywhere near where I live. I can make my own hand sanitizer, but I'd like to be able to buy some masks, at least. We need much better information about reasonable expectations of what's ahead so people can stop freaking out.
Erin (Toronto)
You know what, people make mistakes. This was not a great idea. I think he was just not thinking about the consequences of his actions, and who among us is not guilty of that offense at some time? Just move forward, and use it as a learning opportunity to examine your choices more in future. It's ok. Sending you a *virtual hug*.
Gina K (MA)
@Erin I agree. His actions were not thought through, he may have been too eager to seize a business opportunity, and he may even be selfish but to hound him the way that he has been hounded, and to issue death threats is completely unacceptable. He needs to be given another chance. I feel bad for him and his family. I wish some of this ire were directed where it belongs - to the big corporations, the drug companies, and the millionaire playboys of the world.
happy cyclist (Carlsbad)
@Erin: I like your virtual hug. This tells me that you are a person who can freely forgive. Yes, we all make mistakes, but it would be a greater mistake if we don't learn from it.
PM (NYC)
@Erin - His mistake was talking to the Times. The other things he did were not "mistakes", they were carefully planned.
One Trick Pony (So California)
People, Pharmaceutical companies do this every day!!! Look at the price of insulin. We pay 10 times for our pharmaceuticals than Canada does. Think about it. We should be just as outraged by what the pharmaceutical companies do.
William Kildare (Bloomington, Indiana)
@One Trick Pony Yes, we should be outraged about the price of pharmaceuticals. No, this is not the same thing. Colvin did not spend time and money securing: real and intellectual property rights; buying/renting a factory; hiring workers; buying raw materials; spending money on advertising; securing contracts with retail sellers; etc., etc., in order to charge a very high price for hand sanitizer. No. Be outraged at the pharmaceutical companies for one set of reasons, and at Colvin for a distinct set of reasons.
Susan C (oakland,ca)
That guy was a fool. Hoarding medical supplies during a global pandemic? His donation will buy him prosecution points. Maybe avoid some jail time.
Joyce (Bronx NY)
I know many defend him, but why sanitizer and wipes? He bought the items before an emergency was declared, but you’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of the virus. The administration ignored and poo-pooed the severity, but an opportunist is just that.
Su (Switzerland)
Exactly. And he did go on about how he felt he was actually doing a public service. Definitely knew what he was doing
TheraP (Midwest)
@Joyce It didn’t take an emergency declaration for most of us to know that “we’re all in this together.” Then again... the White House itself tried to buy a German company away from Germany - in order to keep the vaccine to itself! Trump, the would-be hoarder of vaccine. Has no shame!
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
It takes a certain type of person to think this way. Like when Trump openly stated, after 9/11, that such provided him with business opportunities. See https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-september-11-interview-tallest-building-manhattan-2017-9
Rose (Alabama)
He made a mistake, I understand why people were angry... we all mess up and he is paying the price... never threaten one’s family!!!! That makes you worse than him! Sir, hold your head up , all you can do is undo your deed and you’ve done that... I wish you and your family safety and this dies down for you
KR (NC)
@Rose I think it's important to note that his actions were death threats -- and they weren't just words, they were actions that literally threatened the lives of the people who could not obtain the necessary tools to fight this virus.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@Rose He didn't make a mistake. He was making a living doing this sort of thing. He just got caught. He still thinks it's a perfectly good capitalist thing to do.
Teri (Overland Park, KS)
@Rose This wasn't a mistake. This is what he does for a living. He was trying to profit off of people's fear. His mistake was the article. He thought we'd feel sorry for him for no longer being able to gouge us, and didn't expect everyone's righteous outrage. I hope he learns a lesson from this and changes his life. He's a young, able-bodied man, and he can go out and get a job and give up the get-rich-quick schemes.
Stephen (atlanta)
OH DEAR!!!!
Sandy Davidson (Dallas)
I think Amazon and eBay can learn from this and start capping prices to stop third party vendors from price gouging. I read the original article from the 14th where Mr. Colvin is saying he is selling each hand sanitzer between $8-$70. There is a clear difference between selling a $1 item for $3 for profit but charging people up to $70 is morally disgusting. Although people are out here purchasing these items for such prices and that is of course their choice to do so, the consumer virtually has no other option when he/she can't find them anywhere else. It's ethically irresponsible to profit off of of people at a time like these. I feel no sympathy for Mr. Colvin feeling remorseful when he knew exactly what he was doing charging people $8-$70 for an individual hand sanitzer. Mr. Colvin realized once he could make a pretty penny because of supply and demand, he got greedy. Mr. Colvin is free to make his living however he wants but there is a sense of responsibility that comes with all of this and in this case, his greed got the better of him.
Ann (the great north)
He's displayed all the instincts of an American pharmaceutical/health care executive. I am surprised he hasn't been recruited yet.
Em Ind (NY)
This buy is the small potatoes version of Martin Shkreli. And this is who we are - the almighty capitalist spirit. But even the pharma bro Shrkeli is serving some time in prison.
leeserannie (Tucson)
Mr. Colvin was able to stockpile these needed supplies because numerous stores allowed him to clear off their shelves rather than rationing to their local customers during a time of urgent need. The Times ought to send reporters on the same road-trip that he took with his U-Haul and investigate why this was allowed to happen in community after community. Were there kickbacks?
KJ (Tennessee)
What will his next opportunistic effort be? A GoFundMe page to recoup the losses on all the products he snatched up?
Michael Stevens (Seattle)
Disgusting? Yes. Reprehensible? Certainly. Un-American? Hardly. Where this country used to look to the White House for moral leadership, we now have a Presidential-Industrial Complex at the helm. Leave this guy alone, we've got bigger fish to fry.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@Michael Stevens If people hadn't left Trump alone all these years, we wouldn't have the problem we have now. Call these people out every time you run into them. Shame is a good thing.
D.jjk (South Delaware)
His arrogant and planned behavior with his brother they both need jail time and now. Every hurricane or illness we have GOP like this who think they are above the law. By doing nothing we are saying see you next horrible disaster. Lock them up for a long time.
benvo1io (wisconsin)
Huge tax write off. Shrewd.
Virginia (Syracuse)
And how is this different from Trump offering a pile of money to the lab in Germany for EXCLUSIVE access to a vaccine for the virus? Exactly the same deal. But from the Trumpites---not an ounce of outrage on that one. I guess it's okay if you get the vaccine (or the hand-sanitizer) but it's an outrage if somebody else buys it up and you don't get it.
Bob Hawthorne (Poughkeepsie, NY)
I have zero sympathy for this man. He’s lying through his teeth and the harsh blowback he’s getting is exactly what he deserves.
Michael J. Cartwright (Eureka CA)
@Bob Hawthorne How do YOU know that he's lying?
Bob Hawthorne (Poughkeepsie, NY)
@ Michael J Cartwright Pretty simple. I applied the common sense litmus test. In the midst of a global pandemic this man hoards products that could prevent disease or death for thousands upon thousands of people, then jacks up the price significantly. Then only after he’s caught, miraculously appears to have something in his chest resembling a heart. I plead my case.
Monsp (AAA)
I can't wait to see this jerk locked up. The crime was already committed so "donating" price-gouged products at this point will do him no good.
Nyc60 (New York)
These are jerks, sure. But what about big pharma?? Jacked up drug priced always. And I suspect an untold story about their lobbying efforts with Trump that has interfered with getting timely COVID tests online. Where are other countries getting their testing kits?
BWCA (Northern Border)
Thank you for your service. Not!
comengedit (san francsico)
There are price gouging laws??? Both Federal and State price gouging laws??? Not that I approve of Mr Colvin's...uhhh...specualtive spirit...and excuse me foe being, once again, the last to know, but could any of these laws be helpful to consumers in the offensive against oil companies?...big Pharma and US Healthcare Industries???...etc. Mr Colvin, un-samaritanlike as he may be is very, very, small potatoes.
One Trick Pony (So California)
Republicans are suddenly in favor of “job-killing regulations” when they are the ones being deprived of some thing they want. They don’t think twice about it when it is the poor people who can’t afford basic necessities like healthcare. When it comes to health insurance they’re all in favor of profiteering.
Georgia (Kirkland, WA)
Why is anyone surprised at the Colvins' behavior? We have been worshipping at the altar of free market capitalism since the beginning of the Union. Maybe we can collect some eggs from all the chickens coming home to roost.
jak (maine)
While I agree what he did was selfish and a sad commentary on the concept of community, isn't the same practiced by pharmaceutical and insurance companies with immunity?
Michael J. Cartwright (Eureka CA)
@jak My sentiments exactly. When corporations do it, it's called capitalism. America at its most two-faced.
Richard Scott (Ottawa)
The real story is how people overreact - death threats? Seriously?
LauraF (Great White North)
@Richard Scott He may have caused someone to get ill and die by hoarding much-needed antiseptic supplies. It's not an over-reaction. It's a reality check on this moron.
Richard Scott (Ottawa)
@LauraF If a wipe is the difference between life and death, we are all goners.
Johnny K. (CT)
Come on, grifting is not for the small guy. Recommendations for a better business model here: Market yourself as a "decentralized personal virology risk reduction empowerment thought leader." Wear black turtlenecks. Get some VC money, donate to the appropriate PACs and lawmakers. Join a country club that is well connected to the real levers of power; I've heard that one exists somewhere but I'm not really into golf so do your own research there. Hire an investment banker to facilitate your public offering. Put all the other virology risk reduction firms out of business. Buy a private island. Then you can monopolize. Don't they teach this stuff in b-school anymore?
MD (TX)
"he didn’t realize the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak or the severe shortage of sanitizer and wipes." So why have 17,700 Bottles?
Joan Chamberlain (Nederland, CO)
In times past when there has been an catastrophe the american people have always pulled together to help each other through bad times. Of course, we had leaders that brought out the better angels in people with leadership. In the age of trump we just have rampant greed and self interest, hate mongering and fear.
K.P. (anywhere USA)
For everyone heaping scorn on this guy and calling for him to be severely punished.... maybe try reserving some of your scorn for more deserving targets? Like... The US health insurance industry. I pay $500 a month to not be able to access any insurance benefits until I have spent $6000 out of pocket? $12,000 a year to NOT get any healthcare? The 1%. Frantically taking advantage of the stock market drops to buy up ALL of the recently devalued stocks against its eventual recovery, while the rest of us see our 401Ks dwindle to nothing. The do-nothing Senate. Voting down a bill to guarantee paid sick leave for all workers? In the middle of a pandemic when many people cannot work due to self-isolation? Pit all of that (and more) against one man trying to support his family. Save your outrage for the bigger injustices.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@K.P. I have plenty of scorn for everyone who deserves it. If people had long ago heaped some scorn on Trump and the others you mention, we wouldn't have these problems now. I'm not a Barney Fife fan, but I keep hearing him say, "Nip it in the bud!"
Andy Jo (Brooklyn, NY)
What this man did is unconscionable, but surely he is not the only one who has done this. I have often thought that shame, in our culture, is misplaced. We place it upon people for things such as having a child out of wedlock (less so now, but historically this is one reason). We have historically shamed people for loving a person of the same sex. We shame people for their bodily appearance, and say it is "for their own good" so they are "motivated to change". I'm sure each of us can come up with at least 10 more examples. We need to stop shaming people for their personal characteristics, and we need to START shaming people for this kind of greedy, antisocial, evil, behavior. People like this are one example. He and his ilk should be held up to public ridicule, and should be shamed (not death threats). Although he did the right thing by donating the goods, there needs to be legislation by which the goods could be confiscated and given to the hospitals and other organizations that need them. His ill-gotten gains should be heavily taxed. Oh -- and this goes for the pharmaceuticals who gouge patients for critical medications, and for the war profiteers. Let's make Profiteer once more an insult.
CKA (Cleveland, OH)
I'm sorry, ignorance is no excuse anymore. I'm getting tired of people apologizing after the fact. Apologies are meaningless...he was chasing the almighty dollar and he did it knowingly.
LV LaHood (Lawrenceville,NJ)
Mr. Colvin is pleading ignorance over his actions while crying, no less. But his “pricing” suggests that he knew exactly what he was doing.
Rick (Oregon)
Shame is a powerful motivator.
jude (Idaho)
@Rick When one is caught.
PM (NYC)
@Rick - Except he probably can't feel shame. What he felt is more likely fear.
Mark P. (New York City)
In the 1980s it was stated by a fictional but all too prescient character, Gordon Gecko, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." That has been the governing mantra of the American psyche ever since. From Martin Schkreli to Bernard Madoff to these two profiteers, the worship of unbridled capitalism reveals itself again and again at the cost of all human decency.
Shar (Atlanta)
And yet for every repulsive, greedy and irresponsible Matt Colvin there are more people like the unnamed lady at Rite Aid in Coronado, California, who helped my very elderly parents check out their purchases yesterday. They were bewildered at the total lack of the items of the kind hoarded by the despicable Colvin, and she asked to see the rest of their unfulfilled shopping list. She then helped them outside and led them to her car, where she gave them four of her own last eight rolls of toilet paper. She told them it was her gift to her own departed grandparents. I am so grateful to her. I've heard that there is a blood shortage happening, and I'll be calling the Red Cross this morning to set an appointment to give blood in her honor, so some poor sick soul can benefit from her extraordinary kindness to two people I love very much. You can choose to reach out and pay it forward, like the Rite Aid Princess, or you can snatch and selfishly prey on others, like Colvin. I know who I'd rather be in quarantine with.
Joanne (Vancouver)
@Shar Thanks for posting that, it really lifted my spirits!
ATOM (NYC)
@Shar Such an amazing story of power of compassion and empathy. Thank you for sharing. I hope you and your family stay healthy.
ATOM (NYC)
@Shar Such an amazing story of the power of compassion and empathy. Thank you for sharing. I hope you and your family stay healthy.
Bruce Lanphear (Vancouver)
Are the pharmaceutical companies under investigation for price gouging? You might find this man's business tactics distasteful, but the drug companies have been doing it regularly for years.
Brian (NC)
A good example of Tragedy of the Commons, and one that I will use during class discussions about Garrett Hardin's seminal paper on resource consumption and human behavior.
JA (Mi)
he and many others should still be investigated and prosecuted for this behavior. it truly is criminal.
RMC (NYC)
Justice is a beautiful thing.
Sean (Chicago)
Good. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he was proud of it. From the Times' article on Mr Colvin: "These sellers call it retail arbitrage...The bargain hunters look for anything they can sell at a sharp markup." So yes, Matt, you exploited a situation to make a huge profit, then bragged about it TO THE NY TIMES, and now you're seeing the repercussions of your actions. I hope he's punished to the fullest extent of the law and loses everything he has. There's absolutely no justifying this behavior.
ss (Boston)
Actually, he might be happy he has not been arrested ... If this is not profiteering in dire circumstances, then I do not know what it is ...
dwalle (Germany)
To give an interview and to showcase his underlying greed for gain while stating that he feels that his actions are a kind of public service he’s being paid for and not to anticipate the obvious reaction of his victims in such a crisis is either naive or simply stupid. Of course, any hate mail or death threat to him and his family is condemnable, and they need now the support of their local community to protect them. Such a protection by their neighbors might show him that his actions weren’t plain „retail arbitrage“ or fixing “inefficiencies in the marketplace” and that more compassionate humans exists because he acted just like a profiteer. And now to excuse himself by saying “It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them” is the best evidence that he lacks any understanding of his wrongdoing. He will have plenty of time to cogitate about his misdoings now that he spoiled his way of income for a short time profit.
RH (Maine)
This fellow was a small-time guy doing small-time harm. Mostly selling stuff people don't really need (Hey, just wash your hands). This was not a case of $600 epi-pens or $300 insulin. Any of you commenters out there plan to buy into the stock market when it totally tanks?
David Kannas (Seattle, WA)
He was an is a despicable person for doing what he did with the expectation of making a buck. But how about those among us who clean out store shelves of T.P., cleaning supplies, food, etc.? Hoarding in the time of shortage is also a crime.
LauraF (Great White North)
@David Kannas It's very much the same, except in the case of antiseptic supplies, it could mean life and death for people with compromised immune systems, cancer patients, and diabetic.
Ann (Canada)
It's unfortunate that people had to resort to death threats and banging on his door, but I have no sympathy for the man. He knew exactly what he was doing when he stockpiled all those items, leaving none for others who needed them. And he knew what he was doing when he sold them at ridiculous prices, taking advantage of people's fear and desperation. "That's not who I am as a person" ? Yes it is, or you would not have done this in the first place. And just like I wouldn't buy your overpriced items, I'm not buying your forced remorse and crocodile tears....
BambooBlue (Illinois)
Well, I guess if he had just stored them on the Cayman Islands, he would be hailed as a great businessman. Honestly, we have .01% hoarding vast amounts of wealth they could never use, and we villainize this guy for hand sanitizer. He's a two bit player in the game of capitalism.
Laura (New York)
He knew he was buying up medical supplies. He knew this is something hospitals and patients actually need to save lives. And he bought them up anyway, and charged inflated prices anyway. And then he cried crocodile tears to the times, thinking he was going to get sympathy? This man is the very definition of narcissist. The only reason he donated them is because he's being attacked. And if anyone deserved it, it's him. He should be prosecuted. Jail time is the very least of what he deserves.
Joe (Las Vegas)
To the seller of the sanitizer. If you are reading this, dont be too hard on yourself. It makes sense in light of what you do for a living (buying things to sell on Ebay and Amazon for a profit). It was definitely poor judgement,but I dont think you are the monster they are trying to make you out to be. It seems like you just didnt think that one through. And, as others havevsaid, big corporations and pharma companies do it every day. Just learn from it and move on. Dont let these people ruin your life. You know your own heart. I hope that helps.
Ted Siebert (Chicagoland)
And that folks is how you run a health care system. Find a need and gouge them for as much profits as you can possibly squeeze because as we all know in our capitalistic world the stock price is king.
Carol Sorsoleil (Menomonie, WI)
He donated it all to help people. He has genuine remorse in my opinion.
Sam (New York)
@Carol Sorsoleil i think he donated it to avoid getting in trouble with the law.
Ankit (Mumbai, India)
@Carol Sorsoleil I agree.
M (TX)
@Carol Sorsoleil Remorse by force.
LemonFresh (Texas)
Meanwhile, for American hospitals and insurance companies, price-gouging is a business model.
MAH (Nebraska, by way of Atlanta)
We can and rightfully should be angry about this, but threatening his life? We really need to get a grip on how we deal with our anger. Dialing it to 11 is becoming normal, and it isn't. Someone is ready to profit from that anger, especially in cyber-world.
Guy Walker (New York City)
Good glory, please get the word out that soap and water is more effective!
LauraF (Great White North)
@Guy Walker Yes, but not always available. Soap and water isn't portable, last time I looked.
Guy Walker (New York City)
@LauraF My contribution here was not to imply that water can be found everywhere. My intention was to bring attention to the fact that soap and water is THE BEST means of cleaning off the virus. Nowhere did I specify anything but a preferential direction for those looking for it. Folks, please use soap and water when available. Hand sanitizers DO NOT totally remove the virus from your body, but soap and water does. The one thing I would advise against is snark during these dangerous times.
designprose (yahoo)
Crocodile tears! He wanted a pay day and now he's getting what he deserves. Just not what he expected.
Mark (Greenbaum)
To all hoarding: You have all the hand sanitizers which means I have none which makes me more dangerous to you as a potential virus carrier.
Anxious Anonymous (Nyc)
I hope the attorneys general continue the investigation of his behavior, a functioning country relies on laws not churchy sentimental babble. Is a robber cleared of his guilt if caught and quickly unloads the loot? People can’t seem to think straight anymore. Or are we getting used to living in a lawless country by now?
One Trick Pony (So California)
Pharmaceutical companies price gouge us every single day and we accept it. Direct your anger at the corporate monsters. They affect many more lives.
Zen (Vienna)
Great example of what's wrong with the world. Not sure why anyone would want to give this thoughtless, reckless and ignorant behavior a pass. Capitalism is not a perfect system and it certainly shouldn't be used to justify his actions as expected or normal in any way.
Jack Burden (Bella Vista, AR)
His actions are right in line with capitalism. There is nothing inconsistent here with the mainstream view of economic policy in our country. This is late-stage capitalism at its finest. As a society we can do far, far better.
mt (Portland OR)
And yet I see ad after ad for hand sanitizer and masks online, at above average prices, , even found on the NYTimes article right here If hospitals are worried about running out of masks, why is it ok for them to be advertised and sold online?
LauraF (Great White North)
@mt You're probably seeing the ads for these things because you've been searching for them on line. Google keeps this information and is feeding you ads for the products you've been searching. Haven't you noticed that after you do searches on line, relevant ads start popping up? Nothing to do with the NYT, and everything to do with Google and other search engines.
Linda Collins Thomas, MSW (Rhode Island)
Why does Amazon continue with risking scams to honest, trusting customers with use of third party sellers? I've had questionable purchase experiences, including pasting labels over information on supplements, odd ways of paying, and difficulty returning products that were the wrong item, and more. I've become suspect of even goods marked "Prime" because I've gotten messages that say I can only return for gift card credit, and of course ending with the "Was this helpful?" question, or Do Not Reply message. Amazon is no longer my go-to or first stop shopping venue. They are becoming too scary and disrespectful shoppers everywhere.
Richard Lerner (USA)
@Linda Collins Thomas, MSW Two years, Amazon free. It can be done.
Emily (Minnesota)
He’s being held accountable, are the pharmaceutical companies?
CKA (Cleveland, OH)
@Emily What do the pharmaceutical companies have to do with this seller choosing to hoard needed supplies during a health emergency? What exactly is your point here? Right is right, wrong is wrong. He did something illegal and now should deal with the consequences. BTW, I am NOT a fan of big pharma but I'm tired of the "what about" arguments that are a constant with conservatives.
Greg (NY)
Parasitic profiteering...They knew what they were doing...Profit above everything else is where this country has gone wrong...Their “sin” of greed did not go unnoticed and I do hope the appropriate amount of retribution is applied...
JHealy (Philadelphia)
Its hard to feel sorry for a guy who intended to make money on the misery of others, but with that said he should not be harassed by anyone. As others have said, this stuff goes on all the time. and what this story shows is that companies and governments know it and choose to do absolutely nothing about it. Try buying medications, or tickets for a sold out concert or game, buying a hot toy around Christmas time. I guess it’s somewhat comforting to know that at least when many lives are in danger the government and law enforcement will make a stand against predatory capitalism.
wd funderburk (tulsa, ok)
Cynically speaking, this was a last opportunity act to avoid prosecution taken in desperation and shame. On a scale of morally corrupt far more dubious than the missteps of Felicity Huffman & Lori Loughlin of Varsity Blues. He's ashamed he got caught, that's all, after portraying himself as a victim and family man and wants it to go away. Amazon & eBay were right in revoking Colvin's trusted vendor status and license to kill.
CKA (Cleveland, OH)
@wd funderburk I agree; don't feel sorry for him at all.
Clark Landrum (Near the swamp)
The law looks to the intent of the actor in assessing guilt. In that regard, both the pharmaceutical companies and this clown with the hand cleaner intended to gouge people in need with exorbitant prices. Both are despicable.
Bartman (Somewhere in the USA)
I think his remorse is only due to the negative consequences that have befallen him. Other wise, he'd probably still be selling the supplies at and exorbitant price.
Reaganmb (Dallas)
@Bartman, precisely! The seller has no remorse regarding his behaviour. His only regret is that he was caught in acts born of pure mendacity. I do hope the State of Tennessee extracts a price from him equal to that he was willing to impose on his victims and would-be victims.
Norm Vinson (Ottawa, Ontario)
Think about this next time someone argues for unfettered free markets and how the government should get out of our lives.
ibgth (NY)
People that take advantage of the panic should be punished Does not need to be in a big scale or for profit. The lack of many products in supermarket because people are buying much more than needed should not be allowed
meritocracy now (Alaska)
I was looking for hand sanitizer about two weeks ago. There was none in town so I looked online. The prices were higher than normal on Amazon but one seller amazed me. He had a relatively high price but the shipping was $1000. I kid you not. Anyway, I bought some aloe vera gel in the health food store and mixed it 35/65 with isopropyl alcohol. I have it in a jar but I put it in a little 2 1/2 ounce squeeze tube that I got from REI so I can carry some around with me. The world health organization and the CDC websites both have good information on how to minimize your chances of getting sick with this virus. Tough times bring out the worst in a few but it brings out the best in many more of us. Lots of opportunity for character development out there :-). Guess I better turn off the phone and get busy.
Deb (USA)
Hoarders cause a problem in many other respects too. The guy buying 100 rolls of toilet paper, the lady buying 100 cans of beans. If people didn't hoard then there wouldn't be shortages. But that's the nature of humans, they think of their own survival first. I was glad to see stores limiting the number people can purchase because that's the only way to make sure there's enough to go around. Anyone else agree we have too many people on the planet? Worldwide family planning - focus on that next
Deb (USA)
Hoarders cause a problem in many other respects too. The guy buying 100 rolls of toilet paper, the lady buying 100 cans of beans. If people didn't hoard then there wouldn't be shortages. But that's the nature of humans, they think of their own survival first. I was glad to see stores limiting the number people can purchase because that's the only way to make sure there's enough to go around. Anyone else agree we have too many people on the planet? Worldwide family planning - focus on that next
Tom (Hudson Valley)
Many of us have more N-95 masks than we need. I've read that hospitals are in short supply. I'm reluctant to give mine up (I have a dozen), but of course would do so if they are needed by health care workers. If the situation gets dire, we need for hospitals to send out an announcement that Americans need to turn our N-95 masks in to them.
Sarah DeMun (Seattle, WA)
@Tom N-95 wil not protect you from the virus. Your eyes are just as likely a way for the virus to enter your body. Washing your hands and not touching your face will provide much greater protection. Hospitals are desperate for supplies and their staff are so much more vulnerable. Please donate.
Tom (Hudson Valley)
@Sarah DeMun I continue to read mixed messages on this. If I somehow find myself in a place where people are infected with the coronavirus, won't the N-95 mask help protect me? In other words, I'm better off with it, then without it? And if, as you say, the N-95 won't protect me from the virus, then why do health care workers use them?
Matt (Boston)
I don't support his actions, but how can we blame him? Capitalism induces such behavior. We all seek opportunities. I have checked mortgage rates a few times since things started sinking. If the situation played slightly differently and it turned out to be more of a scare than a reality, many would be lauding his ingenuity. Sure. What he did was immoral, but we reward that in our society. Let him donate the products, which is going to be a significant loss for him, and move on.
Leonard (Lafayette, IN)
It takes a little while for the gravity of this situation to sink in for some. I'm glad Mr. Colvin came around, even if took removing his reseller service from the marketplace. I hope folks leave him alone now. There's more constructive things for us to do.
Jason (Seattle)
Make your own hand sanitizer. 3/4cup alcohol. 1/4 cup aloe vera. I’ve seen alcohol in all the stores I’ve been in. Just saying...
e (Cincinnati, OH)
I'm so glad to hear that Colvin has donated his stockpile. With the benefit of hindsight, he now sees the situation from a different viewpoint and has worked to make amends for his mistake. The state of TN is also looking into him, which is just and fair. Please remember though that he isn't the only one to have stockpiled life saving medical supplies - in the world, in the US, or even in the NYT article. If stockpilers know that revealing their stockpile will get them death threats, they're just going to keep sitting on their stockpiles instead of donating them like the outcome in this situation. Please internet, let the criminal justice system work to address crimes. Your mob justice is unjust, cruel and unusual, and hurting us all.
JP (CT)
@e Stockpiling is when you buy enough to ride out the crisis. He bought enough to last a lifetime. This was profiteering.
Scott M (New York City)
To those people who ask rhetorically, what’s the difference between this and what a pharmaceutical company does to medications? The answer is nothing — some of us who support stricter price gouging laws for both pharmaceutical companies and amoral “entrepreneurs”.
Exile In (Bible Belt)
Exactly! What about the companies that price gouge with insulin- a truly life saving product!?
Duckkdownn (Earth)
@Scott M - Developing a new prescription medicine that gains marketing approval is estimated to cost drugmakers $2.6 billion according to a recent study by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development and published in the Journal of Health Economics. That's a bit costlier than mixing isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera together.
Grace (Albuquerque)
@Duckkdownn What’s the price tag for bringing a drug to market? The standard answer, based on a study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, is $2.7 billion. But not all experts are convinced that’s the correct total, and a study in JAMA Internal Medicine adds fuel to that fire. The study found that it cost $648 million each to bring 10 cancer drugs to market. Together, the 10 drugs cost a total of $7.2 billion in research and development (R&D) but have earned the manufacturers about $67 billion so far.
Adrian (Philadelphia)
I think it is unfair to pick on this little guy when he is just doing what the venture capitalists do when they buy up a firm with a near monopoly on some medical product, like an epipen, and quadruple the price. Or just 'regular' companies who have increased the price of insulin so it is out of reach of many patients. Who goes after them for price gouging? We need universal healthcare and regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Adrian No. The point is not to not go after this guy, but rather to go after the venture capitalists too.
Anxious Anonymous (Nyc)
@Adrian,bla bla bla there we go again. The forest justifies the tree argument never goes anywhere.
Adrian (Philadelphia)
@Jerseytime @Anxious. I'm not justifying what he did - it is wrong. I'm just saying that there is a double standard. We should be going after all of this behavior. We DON'T go after the venture capitalists.
Billionaires cost too much (The red end of NY)
This goes on all the time, its called "health care in America", except the Execs never get embarrassed and never cave to public preasure.
David (NYC)
He knew exactly what he was doing. He knew he could make a big profit for selling something people needed during this time. And he didn’t donate anything by choice, he was forced to donate it.
Richard Scott (Ottawa)
@David Look, even Mr. Big at the White House had (has?) no clue what was happening. And this nobody gets death threats? Over what? Something people can make at home?
Karen (USA)
@Richard Scott One can make it at home if one has isopropyl alcohol, which is also being hoarded and hard to find in stores.
NM (NY)
Let’s just hope that the sanitizing supplies end up with those who really need them most and that the spirit of helping one another reaches many hearts.
Disillusioned (Colorado)
Redemption has to start somewhere. This is a good first step. We have bigger things to worry about than someone who exhibited questionable ethics but then had a change of heart or was coerced into doing what's right. I say that our society should let this be water under the bridge, and a cautionary tale of how not to act in times like these.
Monsp (AAA)
@Disillusioned He can redeem himself from a prison cell.
Steve (Seattle, WA)
It's disappointing to see so many people hope to see a downfall of someone who worked within the system we have to better life for him and his family. While I think his behavior is detestable, it's equally detestable to see people hope for the ruining of what seems to be an average person working within legal confines to get a better life for him and his family. Without laws or regulations preventing his actions, it seems that the number one people we should blame is lawmakers (who seem VERY comfortable scapegoating this guy). We live in a capitalist republic (and largely capitalist world). What have you done lately that benefited from this structure while hurting another? As a hint—think about the price and quality of literally everything you buy. What have you done lately to minimize the inequality of capitalism? Calling your representatives, participating in elections, donating to charities, donating your time—these are all options. Outrage at individuals is too often deflection of personal responsibility, you just need to think about it more.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Steve He intentionally and deliberately horded items during a crisis, with the plan to make others pay him dearly for same when they became scarce. Indeed, people like him help create the scarcity. Unintentional, or unknown, ill effects of our system do not excuse his actions. Its like saying we shouldn't jail someone who knocks off a convenience store, because some guy legally made money in a heinous way.
JP (CT)
@Steve He speculated (gambled) with $17K of his own money. If you can't afford to lose, then don't play the game.
Kirk Redburne (Brooklyn)
@Steve I hear you when you say that this one man is emblematic of a far larger problem; and that we are all part of it. That said, I have zero compunction about berating this guy for his individual behavior and choices. "But everyone else was doing it" is somewhere behind "just following orders" on the list of Feeble Responses That Will Not Get You Off The Hook.
mark alan parker (nashville, tn)
Glad to see the outcome - this kind of gauging in a time of crisis is nothing short of criminal. It cannot be tolerated.
T Montoya (ABQ)
There is no wrath quite like the internet unleashed. At least the supplies are now in the hands of people that most need them.
Wendy Haugen (Durango CO)
Hope the churches he donates to don't try to exercise their religious freedom to discriminate when distributing those lifesaving supplies like they do with their adoption agencies.
DLE (USA)
@Wendy Haugen You cite no evidence that those churches have adoption agencies, much less that they discriminate. And you cite no evidence that religious organizations which do discriminate in adoptions similarly discriminate in provision of emergency aid.
A (Seattle)
@DLE As long as the items get to the needy without proselytizing and beyond its usual networks, great.
JZ (CA)
Thank you for publishing this story. The effect of so many communities of not being able to take preventative sanitary measures due to hoarders and price gougers will ripple through the entire world in the form of infection. The cumulative suffering of many will far outweigh the crockodile tears of a single greedy man.
Misplaced Modifier (Former United States Of America)
During the entire reporting on what Matt Colvin (and others like him) had done, no one in media focused on the fact that big box stores in particular enabled people like Colvin by letting them buy large quantities of vital products we all need to survive this pandemic. Capitalism meet sociopath. Same thing, different scale. If we give opportunistic predators free reign in our society, they will take full advantage of destroying life for the rest of us.
LauraF (Great White North)
@Misplaced Modifier I've been berating stores like Costco and large grocery chains for allowing this by contacting their head offices. Perhaps if we all did this the message would sink in.
Adrian (Philadelphia)
@Misplaced Modifier Ah, but that would be rationing and anti free market, which is unAmerican.
Philip (Montreal)
All the people arguing it is the same as what pharmaceutical companies are doing, no it is not. IT would be like if a big pharmaceutical company bought up all the cheap medication in Canada and then sold it somewhere else. The problem here is not just the price gouging but removing the products from there regional markets thereby depriving folks of neccessities.
stefanie (santa fe nm)
Wow! Greed is now a Family Value!!! Who would have known! In my town, two people on two separate days bought a total of $7K worth of dust masks. One woman paid $60 for 4 dust masks because she desperately needed them to work among her horses. Another woman was offered 4 rolls of TP at $50. My town who thinks it is so community minded had as many wiped out shelves as other places--it has slowed slightly because it is no longer payday. We have too many people here who think they are the universe--forget about community. And has my state or city begun anti hording, anti profiteering messages? Oh no....because they are reactive without data. We need more comprehensive testing to know how and what to do.
Don Juan (Washington)
This should serve as warning to all those who attempt to enrich themselves in a time of dire need.
Laurel Saltzman (Oak Park, IL)
People’s reactions to this man’s actions are horrible. I believe his remorse. When I read the story, my reaction was, he should give his supplies to hospitals, etc. I’m glad to see he donated. Be careful before you let the press do an article on you!
Kilkee (Portland, Maine)
@Laurel Saltzman "Remorse" only after being ostracized and sent death threats. As of the original article he was annoyed at being cut off of Amazon, and worried that he might get stuck with the product, but showed no inclination to resell it at his cost, much less donate it. Indeed, he had already developed an explanation for how what he was doing was really a public service by getting the market to distribute through him the product "to those who needed it most," i.e., who were desperate enough to pay top dollar. Don't waste any tears on him.
John (Philadelphia)
@Laurel Saltzman He's probably glad he donated them, too, if only for the tax write-off. Hopefully, this story teaches everyone to only take what they need and save some for others.
KR (NC)
@Laurel Saltzman He literally was asked "Are you sorry?" on a television interview, and he said, "No." He only became "remorseful" after the story got bigger and bigger. He's only sorry that he got caught.
EMiller (Kingston, NY)
Karma strikes again. I hope he has learned a lesson.
louisa (durango Colorado)
I hope the others who have done as he has follow in suit ... but I am not giving him a gold medal ... he knew what he was doing.
Socrates (Downtown Verona. NJ)
The Man Who Cornered the Market With 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer Gets Caught Red-Handed ....and Then Decides to 'Donate' Them. There, I fixed your headline. Now let's start investigating and prosecuting America's Pharmaceutical Extortion corporations who are extorting sick Americans for the sake of inflated CEO salaries and shareholder profits. The cost of insulin - which was discovered 100 years ago - for Type 1 diabetics has almost doubled over a five-year period. Type 1 diabetics spent about $5,700 a year on the life-saving drug in 2016, up from about $2,900 in 2012, according to a new analysis from the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). Three manufacturers -- Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk -- control 99% of the market. America needs serious new oversight and regulation including the outlawing of corporate campaign contributions that buy the silence of the United States Congress and President.
Steve K (Portland, Or)
@Socrates I suggest at least one difference is that Mr.. Colvin didn't have lobbyists to wine and dine politicians before he started price gouging, or a 7 figure a year publicist to wordsmith what he was doing to convince people they were getting the product at a bargain price in this time of need.
ASU (USA)
@Socrates The Pharma companies you mention would probably love to hire Mr. Colvin as director of sales.
Cindy (Germany)
Mr. Colvin was just trying to do what Mr. Trump was trying to do with the vaccine.
JP (CT)
@Cindy "just"? Hope you're being facetious.
KR (NC)
He says he never intended to leave the shelves bare, but that's either a complete lie or completely stupid. Bare shelves are the reason price gouging exists. Basic supply and demand. If any COVID-19 deaths can be directly traced to the unavailability of hand sanitizer and cleaning products in the stores he wiped clean, he should be charged with manslaughter.
D.L (Sc)
@KR exactly right. What would be the point or profit of buying so many if he thought the store would replace them so easily. He knew supplies would be lmited and he could sell to the highest bidder. He's crying and still lying ONLY because he got caught.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
A new verb - to be caught price gouging online will forever be called "Colvinizing." Not a good thing, Matt. You can try to keep telling yourself you've done something good for the market, but you haven't. You've damaged people. Learn your lesson, slink off as quietly as you can, and maybe by this time next year you will have been entirely forgotten except for being "Colvinized."
Larson (Minnesota)
It is not only hand sanitizer I see in the photo that Matt was stockpiling - I see masks as well. Absolutely criminal. These are products that some patients need use every day regardless of our current state. What Matt did jeopardizes the health and safety of others. He needs to be held accountable to that. Disgusting!
Majortrout (Montreal)
@Larson If you want to see gouging, go to Amazon (USA & Canada), and do a search for 3M N95 (particulate respirators). Normally these items would sell for $ 40.00 - $ 50.00. Now on Amazon, they're selling for $ 125.00 - $ 200.00 dollars.
USS Johnston (New Jersey)
He should go to jail for acting this way in a serious health crisis. Make an example of this fool. There are more like him out there. People cannot get any hand sanitizers, N-95 masks and body temperature thermometers. They need these things to stay safe and determine if they are potentially infected.
louisa (durango Colorado)
I hope the others who did as he did...follow in suit.
Faliron (Maryland)
@louisa Keeping dreaming !!He only did it because he was caught and that due to his naivitee and foolishness to go public on a major paper.
TS (NY)
This man, as poor as his character is, is actually just exploiting society the same way Wall St. does, just on a much smaller scale. Witness the bankers who will further their impossible wealth in the coming weeks via shorts and puts. Between them, our President and his enablers and supporters, and our ever-more-trashy media, we have a true crisis of decency in this country. We should fix it before the rot overwhelms us.
Amber Fate (Nyc)
I imagine he only became concerned when his own family’s lives were threatened. He had no concern that others lives were threatened? I’m not impressed. Just happy the NYTIMES was able to shame him into donating. May he be the first to be outed. Perhaps this will be a start in changing behaviors of corporations/pharmaceuticals that do the same.
allseriousnessaside (Washington, DC)
Bad look doing this but this crisis has grown by the hour and a few weeks ago few of us were thinking we'd be where we are today. So I tend to believe him that he didn't foresee the kind of desperation we're seeing today for these supplies, even though we keep being told soap's as good as sanitizers. He donated the stuff, no one's been hurt but Colvin with his financial hit. This is not our biggest problem. He made a mistake. Seems like he's learned his lesson, unlike the liar in the WH.
e (Cincinnati, OH)
@allseriousnessaside Agreed.
Pat S (San Francisco)
Can the people that have all the gloves, disposable wipes, rubbing alcohol, bleach cleansers, and so on please do the same? There are people who were already stretched taking care of previously ill or elderly loved ones, and there are people taking their elderly family members out of care homes and even short term SNFs because of the visitation restrictions and the fear of leaving them in petri dishes. And there are people walking around shopping stores to buy groceries in gloves, but none to buy anywhere now to use when changing sick people’s diapers.
RC (MA)
Amazon could fix this problem by capping the prices of these items at (or better yet, slightly below) the MSRP. If this seller could only sell for the MSRP, he couldn't price gouge. One might even see an upside that the portion of his supply that he got from a warehousing company was made available to a broader group of people. That said, buying everything off the shelves at the regular retailers has injured the people in the towns where he bought everything. Many of those people might not even be able to shop online (if they're too poor for a credit card or don't have internet). Obviously this kind of behavior needs to be stopped in a pandemic, but I've seen this happen for other hard-to-find consumer package goods. i.e., a product I can typically buy at whole foods that costs $5/package, costs $12/package on Amazon (and this was last year, long before the current state of bare shelves). It's the rotton underbelly of capitalism run wild, and we should legislate to curb this abuse.
Susanne (Vineland NJ)
At least his "better angel" helped him to do this, along with a view to mitigate any charges for price gouging. We should all learn a lesson from his actions, and those of many others: we are all in this together, and need to act in ways best positioned to help everyone. We are dependent on the actions of everyone, because the trickle down makes a huge difference.
DL (Albany, NY)
Glad to hear he was shamed into doing the right thing.
Scott Franklin (Arizona State University)
I will give Matt a pass. People weren't forced to buy the sanitizer at a high price. It was their choice.
Steve (Baltimore)
@Scott Franklin If they needed the product and it was no longer on the shelves in their area then they were forced to pay the high price. I don't see how you could see otherwise.
m c (Albany, NY)
@Scott Franklin it's price gouging, which is, per the article, illegal in his state.
D.L (Sc)
@Scott Franklin it's not a choice when he left nothing on the shelves to choose from.
Philip (San Jose)
Sellers like him need to ask themselves one question: “Would I sell these products at these prices in person?” If the answer is no, than you are price gouging. Big pharma execs should ask themselves the same question.
Todd (NE Ohio)
I'm confused, isn't this capitalism? supply and demand?
Steve (New Jersey)
@Todd in a normally functioning market, it would be. But we are not in a normal market and anti-gouging laws are appropriate here to prevent panic. When people like this buy up all of the available supply, it creates a perception of shortage and causes everyone to rush to the store in a panic. We need to stop people who engage in profiteering during times when people are vulnerable.
Carey (Montclair No)
It is if you are selling beanie babies or Pokémon cards. Go for it. Not for much needed health supplies. I agree with other commentators who reference the epi pen scandal.
Drew (Metro DC)
I can only imagine how many other Matt Collins there are trying to make a quick buck on the desperation of those in need during this time. Price gouging should be a federal offense punishable by flogging and stockading in a public square.
Faliron (Maryland)
@Drew Thousands apparently.
Vanessa Moses (Brooklyn, NY)
I feel badly for him. I think what he did is abhorrent and I am glad his items were seized so that others can get these much needed supplies in this critical time, but I couldn’t figure out why he allowed to sell everything back at market price. I would imagine because he bought them within certain communities so they want to redistribute the goods to those same communities. I would then say the state should pay him market value for his items. This man does have a family to support and spent thousands he now can’t recoup, which doesn’t feel right. Plus, I bought two N95 masks directly from 3M on Amazon, and they were gouged at $45 — way above the normal price. So huge companies receive no penalty, but this individual civilian gets his items seized and a cease-and-desist letter AND a fine. It just feels like predatory capitalism is OK for some and not others. Based on the reaction to Mr Colvin’s case, if we societally feel so strongly, gouging in a time of pandemic shouldn’t be legal for anyone, individual or corporation.
S (Bay Area)
If you bought your masks directly from 3M, you should file a price gouging complaint with your state attorney general.
Mark (Iowa)
The man provides for his family buying and selling desirable items online. How was he to know that there would be a shortage of these supplies? If people wanted to pay a premium to not leave the house and get the items he had good for both of them. I think people should leave this man alone. He broke no laws.
tk (Palm Springs)
@Mark “how was he supposed to know?” Really? If he didn’t know, why would he buy them? Do you think his plan was to resell them at market price?
David Kannas (Seattle, WA)
@Mark Except the law of humanity.
Nancy (Fresno, CA, USA)
He caused the shortage by clearing the shelves in his region!
Francis (Elkhart, IN)
I bought Azryromycin in India for $0.96 per three-pack 500MG blister box ($0.32 per pill), no doctor involved in the transaction--although a pharmacist was. Amoxycillin was even less, at $3.91 for a 25-blister pack, 500MG, or only $0.16 per pill. The pricing of prescription drugs in the USA is a racket that goes on every day.
Gord (Toronto)
@Francis your playing with fire unless you have a lab to analyze what your taking. The product you are buying is likely cut with all kinds of interesting goodies. The cost of drugs is abhorrent but that doesn't mean you play reckless with your health buying meds from unknown sources.
Daisy (NY)
@Francis good point! Why should this one, small player be penalized for doing the exact same things that big businesses do??? Unless ... are they going to be penalized too? Will we finally get universal, single-payer, NOT FOR PROFIT healthcare?
Em (Austin)
@Gord You probably don't know that India licenses prescription drug processes from USA, and then manufactures them at a much lower cost, AND supplies to countries all over where they need these drugs. There are no "interesting" additives. Please research before you besmirch. There are millions of people who depend on low-priced medicines from India.
Randy Hardwick (Chicago)
It's good that the Colvins have attempted to take right action following their executing their disgusting plan to disrupt the market for critical supplies in a national emergency. Only time will tell if lessons were actually learned, so a cautious eye toward the brothers' future actions is appropriate. Personally, I support their banishment from e-commerce platforms for an extended period, and a predator warningd on their stores for a period after any return. Their profiteering plan, as well as the initial justifications of their actions following Saturday's publicity, reveal a predatory nature that is not easily changed. Matt Colvin stated clearly that he believes he should be paid for his labor and such, but his labor created nothing and provided no service. All he and his brother did was drive around needlessly to remove items from the normal supply chain in order to divert them for his own financial interests at potentially grave risk to thousands of other individuals. Parasitic is the only word that adequately describes their actions.
Tim (Raleigh)
“It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them,” he said, crying". It was just my intention to make people pay out the nose for them.
Bri (Columbus Ohio)
I have an autoimmune disorder and I could not get hand sanitizer or disinfection wipes anywhere. Perhaps I won't need it, but it would have made me feel safer. When I look at the picture and see the shelves full of items I need, I feel sadness. I know I am not the only one, neither is he. Many others tried to do the same, and still do. He got caught! While I understand but condemn his actions, because they affect me, I also hate the fact that readers thought they have a right to write hate emails and make death threats. While he will be prosecuted -and should be- so should they.
Steve (Baltimore)
@Bri I am ok with him receiving moderately hateful mail. Sending death threats is just plain wrong.
Jacid (NYC)
I’m glad he’s donating the supplies, but don’t be fooled by his crocodile tears. When the original interview took place, it was already very clear how serious the outbreak was, and he still showed zero remorse or accountability. He even said in a different interview that he wasn’t sorry for buying all of it in the first place. He’s just sorry now that he realizes that his story didn’t invoke the sympathy for him he thought it would. And we can be angry at him and individuals like him in addition to being angry at pharmaceutical companies and the economic structures that allowed this to happen. Plenty of people could have done the same thing as him and chose not to, so he’s not just an innocent cog in the system.
Bill in Vermont (Norwich, VT)
Reading about Mr. Colvin inspired me to reread one of my favorite books & movies from long ago: “King Rat” by James Clavell.
Judy (NYC)
He knew exactly what he was doing when he priced these items way beyond their cost. He could have still made a bundle had he priced them reasonably. He only donated after the public outrage and the investigation by Tennessee’s AG. Crocodile tears.
Majortrout (Montreal)
@Judy It's his action that speaks words, compared to all the other vultures who continue to gouge.
TDD (Florida)
It is like the German official noted in an article yesterday, “There are limits to capitalism.” The market is only the best determinant when each party enters a transaction voluntarily and with equal bargaining power.
Diane (NY)
Definitely the right thing to do. It’s clear that once he realized or was persuaded of how wrong his previous actions were, he was contrite and this led him to donate the supplies. I hope he at least came out even on this product, based on his early sales of it. He’s a young man and clearly realizes how retail works, so his loss on this bet shouldn’t doom his family business. Now haters, please stop hating and let this man and his family move on.
George S (New York, NY)
@Diane The episode indeed seems closed, but rightly criticizing Mr. Colvin's actions and intentions from the get go - seeking to profit from materials that materially affect health and public safety - are not "hate", but valid and deserved.
Diane (NY)
@George S I was referring to the death threats he received.
Steve (New Jersey)
@Diane The only reason he "realized" he was wrong was because he got caught.
Pascale Luse (Charleston, South Carolina)
This is his only option if he doesn’t want to live in self imposed SOCIAL ISOLATION forever! One’s reputation is a vital attribute.
Marcello (Seattle)
This man has been doing in small scale what the pharmaceutical industry has been doing in massive scale. Check out the prices of insulin, heart disease medication, hiv medication, or any other critical condition. Insulin retails $300 when it doesn't cost more than a few dollars to produce. There will be in every case less than a handful of companies cornering the market and jacking up prices at the expenseof bankruptcy of ill individuals. To me it makes little sense to go after this single person for doing something at the moment deemed legal and widely practiced in the medical and pharmaceutical supply industry. If we sensibly decide that this practice is not okay, is should also not be okay for pharmaceutical companies and there should be solutions that go beyond sending a guy hate mail.
Turgid (Minneapolis)
@Marcello Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king. (Bob Dylan)
grj (CO)
Price gouging on medicine is a major peeve of Bernie Sanders.
Nat (NYC)
@Marcello There is a difference between "price-gouging" and high prices. You're complaining about the latter.
Kirk Redburne (Brooklyn)
I do feel a degree of sympathy for this man. As the earlier Times article stated; we are a country that has trained its entire populace to place profit above all else. As another commenter states, the US pharmaceutical industry does the same thing. It was a reach to think that years of that indoctrination; and incentivization of such profiteering, that such an episode wasn't bound to happen.
TR (Saratoga Springs, NY)
@Kirk Redburne Exactly. It's tempting to cast Mr. Colvin out as a scapegoat for all of capitalism's sins, but is what he did so much worse than those who decided to stockpile crates of the stuff in their own houses, for fear of running out? Selfishness, and fear in a time of trouble. Fear for good reason, by the way: we're collectively very vulnerable and our health care system could become overwhelmed, and provisions seem inadequate. These are systemic problems, the muck of which Colvin and others are trying to hustle their way through. I don't appreciate his choices, but he's just working with what he has. Which is a system working according to it's design, to keep essential resources scarce.
Rob (Georgia)
@TR I think it's the difference between ignorance and intent. If you accidentally run someone over it could be vehicular manslaughter. Running them over on purpose is murder. Yeah both result in a loss of life but it's the intent to profit and harm others that we find more reprehensible.
Lenny Rothbart (ny,ny)
@Kirk Redburne Judging by the tone of most of the comments here, I’m pleased to note that, no, this country has *not* trained its entire populace to place profit above all else.
Cathie Cruz (Providence, RI)
I was outraged when I first read about this, but as I better understood the situation the target of my anger is now the economic system that allows this to happen. I feel sorry for this guy, he was just doing what so many people are trying do - trying to get by any way they can. Why is Amazon only now concerned with price gouging?
modest proposals (st. petersburg)
The bigger problem is that there are thousands more online sellers who have even less scruples than this guy. Price gouging laws should be made more flexible to apply to these people, and stores need to limit how much a person can buy.
eileen (NYC)
He will probably use the donation to claim an income tax reduction for a charitable donation or business loss.
Laura Guarraci (NYC)
I was thinking the exact same thing
Curt (Los Angeles)
IF he’s been filing.
DaveD (Wisconsin)
@eileen Oh you mean the way a giant corporation does?
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
It may be that Mr. Colvin is genuinely remorseful, and now that the products are donated they can be distributed to others. I can understand how Mr. Colvin did not realize that sanitizer would become so much in demand. Others are also hoarding sanitizer, gloves, masks and other products. I hope some will realize how damaging their selfishness is. Unfortunately, a crisis like this virus often brings out the worst in people, not the best.
Nick (Brooklyn)
This was the only option after the previous article and every single comment / reaction, and to avoid being a pariah in his community for years to come. Good on him for finally doing the right thing - hopefully they have learned their lesson about opportunistic price gouging during a health crisis.
M (NJ)
@Nick yes, but it took an internet pitckfork mob and threat of civil prosecution before he did the right thing. If you read the original article, he felt perfectly entitled to turn his profit. He's only sad that he was caught.
bleurose (dairyland)
@Nick The only lesson these two have learned is "better to not get caught next time". That is the ONLY thing they are sorry for: that they got caught.
Doug R (Michigan)
His comments makes it clear that he had every intention to inflate the value of the items he was going to sell and gouge his customers.
J.D.L. (New Jersey)
My first reaction to this guy when I read about him a couple of days ago was anger. Then I stopped to think: Why is it OK for a pharmaceutical firm to do essentially the same thing but not an individual? I know what my answer is to that, and it does not do the American system any credit.
grj (CO)
You're right. All the more reason we need Bernie Sanders.
Gk (Pa)
Epipens and insulin are life and death items as compared to hand sanitizer. What do they cost?
Seeyoubye (Greenwich CT)
@J.D.L. A big difference is that this guy was arbitraging during a time of national need. Pharmaceutical firms need to be incentivized to develop drugs in the first place.
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