Shanghai Regulators Warn E-Commerce Platforms Including Meituan and Against Price Gouging During Pandemic

Shanghai’s top market regulator said on Monday that it had summoned 12 e-commerce platforms including Meituan and for review of topics including price gouging during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The 12 enterprises exchanged comments regarding their operating conditions, common consumer complaints and measures taken to stabilize prices during the pandemic, and explained specific solutions and improvement measures in detail.

Meituan assured that it will take measures to improve the quality of supplies, set up a special regulating team, increase the frequency of system inspections, and set upper limits on the prices of different categories of commodities. As soon as problems like unreasonable pricing or price gouging are found, the commodities will be intercepted or delisted immediately.

Meanwhile, said that it has issued price stabilization initiatives and alerts on regulation of “blind vegetable boxes” three times to merchants since March 27. It also has set up a special management team to inspect and control the prices of 25 key fresh and livelihood commodities such as potatoes, cucumbers and meat on a daily basis.

At the meeting, Shanghai regulators also reported consumer complaints and hot social issues including unreasonable minimum purchase quantities, very expensive agricultural products and irregular “blind vegetable boxes,” and put forward the following new requirements: strengthen the management of platform operators, continue to enhance the examination of packages and blind vegetable boxes to earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. In addition, platforms were told to improve their management of delivery drivers, stop improper price increases by drivers and further standardize price management.

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The pandemic situation in Shanghai remains grim. The city’s market regulator said on Monday that in order to fully guarantee the supply of basic living materials, food production enterprises are gradually resuming production. On April 15, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also said that priorities will be given to the production resumption of 666 enterprises in key industries including integrated circuits, automobile manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and biomedicine.