A business seemingly desperate to cash in on the coronavirus hysteria has been caught charging customers an extortionate rate for toilet paper.
A Melbourne shopper spotted a pack of 48 rolls on display at a small grocer in Brighton, southeast of the city, for the hefty price of $54.
There were six eight packs concealed in the one package, which usually retail for about $5 each, making the grocer’s price considerably higher.
The store owner was unable to be reached for comment but the independent retailer is not the only one ostensibly trying to cash in on the panic, with some Australians trying to sell toilet paper online at inflated prices.
It comes as some consumers have called on supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles to introduce stricter limits on toilet paper purchases.
On Saturday, frustrated shoppers were taking aim at Coles and Woolworths online for their handling of nationwide toilet paper panic buying, which saw shelves cleared of the bathroom essential.
Many have called on Woolworths to limit customers to buying just one pack of toilet paper at a time, instead of its four-per-person maximum that it rolled out on Wednesday.
“Hey woolies maybe like everyone else has said can you please make the limit of one packet of toilet. I have been trying for several days to buy toilet paper for my family as we have totally run out, I don't want to stock pile for an army just enough for myself, husband and kids,” one shopper wrote to the retailer’s Facebook page.
Another said Saturday that the still generous four-package limit was keeping “sensible” people from being able to maintain their normal supply.
“You are letting the majority of customers down because this is not being managed with the real figures in mind or with a sensible degree of fairness to the majority,” they wrote.
Someone else claimed they had gone to five different stores in search of toilet paper and expressed anger at the limit obviously not serving its purpose.
“You claim that production has increased and yet the shortage is worse than ever. I’ve given up even trying. I have a broken ankle and it’s just too hard to go from store to store. FIX THIS,” their post read.
Coles faced similar anger from its customers, who asked that it follow the lead of IGA, which has already enforced a one-pack limit.
“This four pack limit on toilet paper is an absolute joke. Nobody needs four packs of toilet paper. One maybe two at the most, depending on the size of their family,” someone wrote.
A mum said she had struggled to replenish toilet paper stock at her household of five and joined others in suggesting Coles consider a tighter limit, or gradually filling the shelves throughout the day.
“It’s ridiculous that I can’t even provide these necessities for my family because of greedy people,” she said.
Delivery delays for Woolworths and Coles online shopping
Coles and Woolworths have also faced criticism from customers peeved over issues with long delivery delays and shortages on online orders due to the widespread panic buying.
Some warned others against trying to order toilet paper online, with one complaining they were notified by Coles just 30 minutes before they were due to collect that the retailer had insufficient stock.
“Do not do click and collect or home delivery from your supermarket thinking you will secure hard to get items like dunny paper. Even though they are showing available online, 30 minutes before collection time they send a sneaky email saying they are not available,” one person wrote.
A “flu-ridden” Woolworths shopper also complained about not being able to schedule their regular online delivery to arrive on Sunday, and instead was told she would need to wait until Wednesday.
With some products she tried to order not available, she said her $230 order came down to $125.
“I can’t even supply roast beef or bread rolls. I’ll be taking my flu-ridden body to another supermarket to find my weekly groceries,” she wrote.
Another shopper with “numerous health and mobility issues” who relied on Woolworths’ online shopping service pleaded with others to stop “taking up all the delivery time spots”.
“If you can or have someone who can, go into the stores and buy your groceries and leave the online time delivery slots to those who actually need them,” he wrote.
Another shopper slammed the retailer for continuing to advertise its “Delivery Unlimited” service despite significant delays.
“Pretty foul that you are still even advertising the delivery unlimited option when you can’t even manage deliveries for your existing subscribers. How about you prioritise people who signed up before the last two weeks Woolies?,” an annoyed customer wrote to Facebook.
My husband is at @woolworths #lanecove I asked him to get me just a few things.. including #shitroll guess he’s not getting any! #toiletpaperpanic still in the air! #sydneycoronavirus #sydney pic.twitter.com/3H6QNq1I8E— Katherine Walton (@kathlwalton) March 6, 2020
Supermarkets facing ‘unusual demand’ for deliveries
A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it was working to keep up with the larger demand for certain products.
“Like our supermarkets, our online teams have been working hard to manage higher than usual demand for deliveries over the past week,” they said in a statement.
“Delivery windows have been filling up faster than usual and we apologise to customers for the inconvenience this has caused.
“We’ve been ramping up our delivery capacity with the support of our transport partners and doing all we can to fulfil orders for our customers as quickly as possible. We thank customers for their patience as we work through this.”
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