Gas Stations Charging $10-a-Gallon?, 24-Pack of Water Selling For $42?, Be On The Lookout For Price Gouging
Best Buy has apologized after a viral photo taken at one of its stores in Houston appeared to show a case of water selling for $42 during Hurricane Harvey.
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 pic.twitter.com/8dKz3sJJM1
— ken klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) August 29, 2017
The photo, which was posted to Twitter on Tuesday, showed 24-packs of bottled water selling for $42.96, and led to accusations the store was price gouging during a time when people are in need of water following hurricane Harvey.
“Price gouging is a term that refers to the practice of raising the price of goods, services, or commodities, to an unreasonable or unfair level. Such an increase in price is often a result of a sudden increase of demand and shortage of goods, such as in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis, and it is illegal in most jurisdictions.” Legal Dictionary.net
The electronics retailer said the sign was a mistake made by some of their employees. According to Best Buy, the pricing error came about because the company doesn’t usually sell bottled water in bulk.
“This was a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday,” a Best Buy spokesperson 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.”
The aftermath of hurricane Harvey has caused resources to become scarce and people may become victim to more price gouging cases.
During an update on the rescue and recovery efforts this morning, Texas Governor – Greg Abbott, was asked about some reports of higher gas and water prices.
Abbott called price gouging during Hurricane Harvey’s devastation “un-Texan” and warned there will prosecutions of any businesses caught doing it.
“Price gouging is not only reprehensible, it’s illegal,” said Abbott, warning businesses of fines up to $25,000 per incident, and up to $250,000 if the victim is 65 years old or older.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said a consumer protection hotline has been established to help protect those who are forced to pay illegal higher prices for goods during the storm.
“During declared disasters, state law prohibits businesses from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as gas, food, medicine, drinking water, clothing and lodging,” Paxton said.
Paxton advised Texans who observe price gouging to report it immediately by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-621-0508, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filing a complaint online.