Best Buy has issued an apology after one of its Houston-area stores was caught selling cases of water at insanely high prices. A now-viral photo showed 12-packs of Smartwater advertised for $29.98 each, while 24-packs of Dasani were going for $42.96; pretty steep considering both of these cases can be purchased online for $15 and $30, respectively.
Shortly after the photo surfaced on the internet, social media immediately accused the electronics store of taking advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, as many displaced people have been struggling to secure basic necessities like food, shelter, and water. The company has since called the signage a "big mistake" and claimed it only wanted to help those in need.
"This was a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday," a company spokesman told CNBC. "As a company we are focused on helping, not hurting affected people. We're sorry and it won't happen again. Not as an excuse but as an explanation, we don't typically sell cases of water. The mistake was made when employees priced a case of water using the single-bottle price for each bottle in the case."
A representative for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has confirmed multiple reports of illegal price gouging since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
"The Office of the Attorney General currently has received 550 complaints and 225 emails sent to an emergency address set up for consumers, and more are coming in pretty consistently," Kayleigh Lovvorn, a media relations official at the Texas Attorney General, told Grit Post. "We expect more complaints in the wake of the storm regarding home repair and construction fraud/price gouging."