Americans across the country are still seeing bare shelves where Clorox
products used to sit. But on sites like clean-sell.com consumers are led to believe they can purchase products like Lysol’s Max Cover Disinfectant Spray for just $0.80.
The clean-sell.com site, along with 24 others, received notices from the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday alleging that they were “playing on consumers’ COVID-19 pandemic fears to trick them into paying for Clorox and Lysol products that the defendants never deliver.” In some cases, the sites are charging more than $1,000 for their products, the FTC alleged.
The majority of these sites were inactive as of Thursday afternoon. MarketWatch reached out to clean-sell.com and other sites that were still active but could not reach anyone for comment because the site’s phone numbers and email addresses were inoperable.
All 25 websites were issued a temporary restraining order by a federal court in Ohio, at the FTC’s request.
“The FTC believes the defendants illegally charged consumers thousands of dollars for Clorox and Lysol products that they never delivered,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. In many cases, consumers were allegedly unable to get a refund because the websites “used falsified shipment information to make it harder for consumers to get the charges reversed.”
“In other cases, they shipped worthless products that consumers did not order— like a pair of socks — or used other deceptive tactics to thwart the chargeback process,” the FTC said.
“We do not sell our cleaning and disinfecting products directly to consumers, so they should only buy our products from trusted retailers,” a representative of the Clorox Company told MarketWatch.
“We have zero tolerance for sites selling counterfeit goods and related scams that prey on vulnerable people,” Clorox added. “One of our highest priorities has been to ensure that people get access to our disinfecting products that are authentically Clorox products.”
Reckitt Benckiser, Lysol’s parent company, did not respond to a request for a comment.
“If a seller seems to have items that are out of stock everywhere else, do an online search for complaints about the seller or website before you buy,” said Andrew Smith, Bureau of Consumer Protection Director of the FTC.