On Tuesday, a reporter shared an image sent to him from a Houston resident. The image showed a Best Buy in Texas charging US$42.96 for a case of Dasani water. It also showed the price for a case of SmartWater at $29, with a sign saying “limited supply.”
Many people took to Twitter to complain about the overpriced water, as a case usually costs between US$15 and $26. Many users said the retailer was “gouging” residents during Hurricane Harvey.
— Kristen Sze ABC7 (@abc7kristensze) August 29, 2017
In a statement, a Best Buy representative apologized following the accusation of price gouging.
Best Buy said the sale was “clearly a mistake on the part of a few employees at a single store.” The company said it doesn’t have pricing for cases of water in its system and employees priced the water “by multiplying the cost of one bottle by the number of bottles in a case.”
The company also said it was “deeply sorry that we gave anyone even the momentary impression that we were trying to take advantage of the situation.”
Price gouging on the rise after Harvey
During a natural disaster in Texas, like Hurricane Harvey, it’s illegal to charge consumers excessively prices for basic necessities.
The Texas attorney general’s office said there have already been 600 complaints about price gouging during Hurricane Harvey, mostly about drinking water and gasoline.
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“You can’t charge 10, 15, 20-times what the product costs at a normal time,” Brad Carpenter, with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, told NBC News.
Carpenter said the office’s investigators have been checking these complaints and will hold businesses accountable for price gouging.
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