Best Buy has apologized after a viral photo appeared to show a Houston-area store selling cases of bottled water for as much as $43 during Hurricane Harvey.
A photo submitted to GritPost appeared to show a Best Buy offering $29.98 and $42.96 cases of water, prompting outrage and allegations of price gouging on social media.
A Best Buy spokesman issued the following statement about the photo to CNBC on Tuesday:
"This was a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday. 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 Texas Attorney General’s Office confirmed to GritPost that reports of price gouging have been flowing in, including more than 550 complaints and 225 emails. And officials expect even more once the waters go down.
“We expect more complaints in the wake of the storm regarding home repair and construction fraud/price gouging,” said Kayleigh Lovvorn, who works in media relations in the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
“Unfortunately, price gouging like this can be common following natural disasters,” she continued. Lovvorn added that they office has seen complaints from “hotels, grocers, fuel providers and (most frequently) fresh water.”
Businesses found guilty of price gouging can face fines of $20,000, according to GritPost. The site also noted that “anyone who overcharges a senior citizen on necessary goods will be fined $250,000.”