A Houston Best Buy got in hot water over the price of bottled water following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
A photo of a Best Buy store selling a 24-count case of Dasani water for $42.96 went viral on Tuesday, August 29, as Twitter users accused the electronics chain store of price gouging. The photo also showed a 12-count case of Smart Water with a sign advertising “$29.98/PK, Limited Supply!!”
“One Houston resident sent me a pic of water he saw being sold for *$42* at a nearby Best Buy. They were kind enough to offer $29 bottles too,” Twitter user and journalist Ken Klippenstein wrote.
But Best Buy said their stores don’t sell water by the case, only by the bottle.
“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.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also told CNBC of more than 500 reports of price gouging, including up to $99 for a case of water and fuel for $4 to $10 a gallon. The penalty for price gouging is $20,000 per instance and up to $250,000 if the victim is 65 or older.
“These are things you can’t do in Texas,” Paxton said. “There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this.”
Hurricane Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 storm on Friday, August 25, causing massive flooding and devastation. At least 30 people have died.
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