Lazada reported to receive complaint from Thai Ministry for mask price hike

Thailand's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has filed a complaint against Southeast Asia eCommerce platform Lazada, after MOC found surgical masks being sold at high prices, according to Reuters.This comes after the MOC capped the price of surgical masks at 2.5 baht for all vendors, as said by Bangkok Post last week. The article added that vendors who sell face masks at a price higher than the fixed price will face a jail term of five years and/or a fine of 100,000 baht.

Reuters quoted commerce minister Jurin Laksanavisit, who said there were three online shops on Lazada that were selling surgical masks at an average price of between 22 baht to 26 baht. Laksanavisit also said the vendors could face prison time up to seven years, as well as receive a fine of up to 140,000 baht (US$4,460.02). At the time of writing, search results on Lazada Thailand showed surgical masks priced at 93 baht and 1,247 baht each are still found on the platform, according to a quick check by Marketing. In comparison, surgical masks listed on Lazada Singapore's platform are found to be priced at SG$0.60 to SG$1 per piece, while those listed on Lazada Malaysia's platform are priced at RM0.60 to RM5 per piece.

In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson from Lazada said it has been supporting measures by Thailand's Department of Internal Trade to maintain reasonable pricing for essential items, including face masks. "As a platform, Lazada always respects local laws, regulations, as well as government policies to ensure our healthy ecosystem. We are aware of the Minister of Commerce’s comments and are currently conducting an internal investigation," she added. The spokesperson also said that it is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and new regulations to educate its sellers on the platform. If any seller persists in inflating the prices of masks, Lazada will remove the listing. 

Additionally, Marketing also saw listings of surgical masks on eCommerce platform Shopee Thailand that are priced above MOC's capped price of 2.5 baht. The surgical masks are priced from 30 baht to 98 baht per piece. Marketing has reached out to MOC for a statement.

Last month, Singapore-based online platform Carousell was also called out for selling masks at high prices. According to multiple media reports, surgical and N95 masks were resold on Carousell for as high as SG$288 for a box of 20. Marketing, at the time of writing, found that those particular listings have been removed, but new listings have appeared on Carousell selling masks between SG$50 to SG$100. 

In response, Su Lin Tan, Carousell's VP of operations, told Marketing then in a statement that it had reached out directly to sellers, advising them to price their masks reasonably in order to allow a fair distribution of masks. She added that Carousell will also roll out measures progressively including advisories on Carousell News and curating a collection of reasonably-priced items to keep our community protected. Tan said listings with unreasonable pricing will be asked to observe corrective action or may be taken down. A quick check by Marketing shows that the current listings on Carousell are selling masks at a relatively reasonable price, from SG$0.40 to SG$4 per piece.

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