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
When reporter Ken Klippenstein tweeted that a Best Buy in Houston had thrown its scruples out the window in favor of price gouging during Hurricane Harvey, the internet instantly lit up in outrage. Price gouging — or jacking up prices to unreasonably high levels during times of extreme demand — isn't an uncommon practice during natural disasters, but the photo was taken just before there were any documented shortages in the hours before the storm hit and certainly wasn't something it wanted to get caught red-handed for.
Klippenstein reported in Grit Post that 550 complaints and 225 emails had been sent to the Texas Attorney General since Harvey made landfall. CNBC confirmed those figures and noted that cases of water were spotted at rates as high as $99, though outrage-inducing photographic evidence wasn't supplied alongside the prices.
Meanwhile, Best Buy says that the pricing was a mistake, not an intentional act. "Not as an excuse but as an explanation," a spokesman wrote in a statement to The Hill. "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."
Whether or not that's the truth, one thing's for sure: you definitely shouldn't put a giant sign reading "LIMITED SUPPLY!!" on top of your overpriced goods if you're going to claim human error.