Response to: Price gouging during a pandemic?

I'm writing this to specifically address the stigma of "price gouging" many consumers are labeling some American retailers. Well, specifically us, when it comes to our isopropyl alcohol pricing, but we know that many others are also being accused of similar practices and we want to put a perspective out there that might help educate the public and perhaps help some of them (the actual good guys) from being falsely accused. Today is April 29th, 2020. In the earlier days when we started helping people get supplies, the stigma was "Gasp, you're profiting off of COVID-19?" and we addressed that then, but some of the tone lately has progressed into the darker realm of suspected gouging and we want to address that now.

So first let's quickly step back to the "gouging" term's origin, and realize what defines the concept of price gouging. And then we'll defend each and every point and perhaps convince you that we're in fact very good people.

The fine team at Grammarist puts it like this:
(original source credit: https://grammarist.com/idiom/price-gouging/)
"Price gouging is the practice of raising the price for goods or services above a fair or reasonable price. Price gouging primarily occurs during an emergency. For instance, if a town is devastated by a natural disaster and entrance to the town is difficult or impossible to navigate, then the prices for food and water generally rise according to their scarcity. The amount of money it took to produce the food or water is still the same, it is the demand for the items that causes the price to rise. Price gouging may also refer to raising the price for an essential item to achieve a ridiculously large profit, often because there are no competing items in the market. For instance, many drug companies in the United States are accused of charging too much for life-saving medicines. Price gouging is illegal in most areas of the United States because it interferes with the preservation of civil order during a time of emergency. The word gouging to mean to cheat someone or to swindle someone came into use in the 1830s, but the idiom price gouging didn’t come into use until about one hundred years later."

Our responses inline:

"Price gouging is the practice of raising the price for goods or services above a fair or reasonable price."

We did not sell this item before the pandemic, so there was never a price for us to raise. Meaning, we did not raise the price. But there's so much more we want you to know. Let's continue please:

"Price gouging primarily occurs during an emergency."

Yeah, it sure does. I remember during many occasions in many hurricanes, standing in line to get a generator and watching arguing and near fights break out over people vying to survive and be sure they have power next week because there were more people in line than generators for sale. Those retailers were charging multiples of their pre-hurricane prices. After waiting in line for hours, I always felt completely ripped off paying so much for a generator that I could have had for so much less just a few days prior.

"For instance, if a town is devastated by a natural disaster and entrance to the town is difficult or impossible to navigate, then the prices for food and water generally rise according to their scarcity. The amount of money it took to produce the food or water is still the same, it is the demand for the items that causes the price to rise."

OK so this is where we need you to focus for a second. The investments we've had to make to be able to produce these ready to sell bottles of 99% isopropyl alcohol is staggering. One cannot argue whatsoever that our cost is what it was to whoever was selling the item precovid. The amount of money it takes to produce bottled isopropyl during a pandemic by a newcomer is enormous. We are praying we break even, let alone see a profit is a distant idea.

"Price gouging may also refer to raising the price for an essential item to achieve a ridiculously large profit, often because there are no competing items in the market. For instance, many drug companies in the United States are accused of charging too much for life-saving medicines."

That's really mean of those companies. We fully endorse companies who need to recoup an investment they've made for a chance to discover a breakthrough solution to a problem, but when a kid acquires a patent because he controls some fund for whatever reason and jacks up the price where many are dependent on the drug, is a whole different ballgame. We operate within the law, and we are not exploiting the protection of some patent while putting people's lives on the line for it. For g-d sake, whatever you think, please don't lump us into that version of the definition.

"Price gouging is illegal in most areas of the United States because it interferes with the preservation of civil order during a time of emergency."

Think about it, nobody who's being gouged leaves with a smile on their face. Most people we interact with are glad and amazed that we figured out a way to offer isopropyl to the market, and our customers are extremely kind and appreciative and fuel us with the love to march on. We have an army of loyal customers and plenty of repeat business. The tone and sentiment of our customers is almost always highly positive.

"The word gouging to mean to cheat someone or to swindle someone came into use in the 1830s, but the idiom price gouging didn’t come into use until about one hundred years later."

We do not cheat anyone. Pricing of the product and of the shipping is displayed before a purchase. If someone isn't happy with it, they can lower the quantity and/or size of the item to get it within budget. Prospective customers have a choice to place their vote that they believe in what we offer by either making a purchase, or not. The process is fully transparent. Hopefully it's even more transparent after you've read this.
If you previously felt that we were gouging, we hope you reconsider your viewpoint. You may ask "OK, sure that's all great, but then how do you actually manage to have isopropyl alcohol for sale?" I knew you were going to ask that. We hear it all day long. We are lucky enough because of life experiences, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, relationships, and an extreme amount of very hard work, negotiating, and persistence. Let alone including breaking our quarantines to come together to assemble your goods and deliver them to you. We mentioned it's difficult to do, so let's go into that a little bit more so you have some visibility into the process. Have you tried lately to find bottles for sale? Do you know hard it is to get the machinery needed to fill and assemble the products, the large quantities of bottles, labels, induction caps, boxes, ink, tape, paper, toner and all the other raw materials and machines to produce all what is needed, during a pandemic, to get this in the hands of a large amount of very demanding people in swift fashion? The prices for all of those things has shot up. And the even bigger part of the equation, what goes into the bottle - the price we pay for the liquid isopropyl delivered to our doorstep (in the rare cases where we can find it available) has skyrocketed from last year's prices for a plethora of reasons. The oil/alcohol industry is in shambles and we are all feeling the effects of it. A lot goes into making that box looking the way it does when it arrives at your doorstep. And many aspects are highly challenging for us but we are accomplishing it daily. So please don't confuse us with the people who hoard and clear the shelves of local stores, just to turn around and sell those goods to the very same locals. Or people who jack up their previous prices. We started offering isopropyl alcohol postcovid and we endure a multitude of extremely complicated activities to be able to offer it to you. We're helping you get an affordable small and personal amount (yes, we even put limits on how much you can order), and all the while you don't need to shell out the massive investment, take possession of massive quantities to get earthly pricing, and the commitments that we need to endure day and night around the clock to make that possible for you.
We appreciate those of you who say thanks, and we very much resent the suggestion of others who may feel that we're bad people in some way. We've also donated over $5,000 worth of masks during this pandemic and we offer reasonable prices for the rest of the items while we have them in stock. So in conclusion, please keep an open mind and see it from another point of view, smile, be happy and be nice. Thanks for your time, be safe, and be well.