Stockpiling Bandit gets Comeuppance

There have been a lot of stories in the news of late, highlighting people’s kindness in the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves. How the seriousness of the situation brings out the best in people, and celebrating the generosity and supportive nature of the human spirit. For example, Romain, the cellist who is organising free concerts outside the homes of Londoners in isolation, just to lift their spirits. And Dan, who’s set up his now empty London club as a foodbank and delivery service for the most vulnerable. There are countless stories of people offering to shop for their elderly neighbours, of volunteers helping out vulnerable residents who don’t have friends and family nearby, reminding each other we’re not going through this alone, but we all stand together.

At the risk of sounding over-saccharine, these are beautiful and heartening things to hear. Now immediately at risk of sounding heartless and cold, what’s even more satisfying to hear is when someone who behaves in the opposite fashion, and tries to exploit the situation by putting people at risk to make a fast buck, get their comeuppance. Allow me to introduce to you Matt Colvin.

The day after the first death from the coronavirus in the US, in the long tradition of greedy cartoons characters, Tennessee resident, Mr Colvin’s eyeballs turned into dollar signs.

“People are suffering. YESSS!! I can get rich!”

He recruited his brother and together they toured Tennessee and Kentucky in a van which they filled by buying up all the hand sanitisers they could find: almost 18,000 of them. Their Dastardly-and-Muttley-style plan was then to list them on Amazon at ludicrously inflated prices (one was listed at $70!), and make a killing. Sadly, this might have been literally, as residents of the two states couldn’t find hand sanitisers anywhere as a result, and people’s hygiene was compromised, potentially with fatal consequences.

I’m all for a get rich quick scheme, but in such devastating times, this act of greed and selfishness felt inconsiderate, immoral and inexcusable. And, thankfully, Amazon agreed. They closed his account, and cracked down on any instances of retail arbitrage that saw people trying to capitalise on the suffering and panic caused by the pandemic. Consequently, Mr Colvin, as well as being a figure of ridicule in the States, is now stuck with 18,000 bottles of hand sanitiser in the corner of his garage, and hopefully a giant hole in his pocket.

These words have never left my mouth before, and I say them through gritted teeth but, “well played, Amazon, you acted ethically.” (Ooh, I feel dirty).

Now, musical duo, Good Cop/Rad Cop, have expressed musically what the rest of us are thinking, and it is a thing of a beauty, as pure as any of those lovely kind gestures mentioned above. They may not be Simon & Garfunkel, but they’re quite something. The whole story can be seen here, including their hilarious and catchy song, as well as a perhaps ill-advised interview Mr Colvin gave to his local news, in a very bold choice of t-shirt!

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