Japanese konbini criticised for being just as bad as notorious online resellers. 

Years from now, people will look back at this moment in history as the time when the world was gripped by a frightening coronavirus epidemic. They’re likely to also mention The Great Mask Shortage of 2020, due to the fact that people around the world are currently struggling to find face masks.

While the shortage is a concern for members of the general public who are trying to protect themselves against contracting the virus, it’s even more concerning for medical professionals who need to use them in their line of work. And while finding a mask in a store is like finding a needle in a haystack right now, there’s one place where they’re selling like hotcakes, and that’s at online resale sites like Yahoo! Auctions and Mercari.

This immoral profiteering by resellers, where products are sold at grossly inflated prices, is a move we’ve sadly come to expect from online resale sites in recent years. However, it’s not something we expect to see from brick-and-mortar businesses, especially during a health crisis.

So when a customer visited a 7-Eleven convenience store in Japan the other day and found a box of masks retailing for an exorbitant price, they immediately snapped a photo and shared it online.

The original post has now been removed, but others have since shared the photo on Twitter.

The photo shows a box of 60 face masks selling for the incredibly high price of 16,900 yen (US$159.55) before tax. Commenters have pointed out that these masks used to retail for roughly 600 yen before the shortage, meaning this 7-Eleven was standing to make a 30-fold profit on the original retail price tag.

News of the exorbitant price quickly spread to mainstream media channels, with a number of TV programmes this morning reporting on the convenience store’s questionable pricing decision.

Seven & i Holdings, the company that operates the convenience store chain, ended up apologising for the incident, saying:

“We are sorry to have caused offence. Sales (of the product) have now been suspended. We will ask our stores to price items more suitably from now on.”

The apology may have come too late for some customers, however, as many were appalled that 7-Eleven would so blatantly put profits before customers during the coronavirus crisis.

“I won’t ever go to 7-Eleven again.”
“Let’s stop using 7-Eleven.”
“This makes me wonder if 7-Eleven part-time workers are really resellers.”
“They probably just bought them from a reseller and are selling them at the same price.”
“There seems to be a lot of problems with convenience store franchises lately.”
“They should suffer penalties for reselling.”

As it turns out, this isn’t the first 7-Eleven franchise in Japan to go rogue lately, by appearing to set their own rules against advice from central headquarters.

However, now that the Japanese government is clamping down on the resale of masks by enacting a 47-year-old law that would result in heavy fines or up to five years in prison, here’s hoping we’re on the tail-end of the face mask fiasco and the fist fights and robberies it’s brought up in Japan.

Source: Livedoor News via Jin 
Top image: Pakutaso
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