NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Electronic retailer Best Buy is facing a firestorm of anger over photos showing one of its Houston-area stores selling cases of bottled water for $42, nearly double the price found at other stores.
The image in question went viral on social media following the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction on the Texas coast that drove over 30,000 people into more than 230 shelters.
The photo also shows a case of the typically more expensive SmartWater at $29, saying “limited supply.”
Best Buy says the pricing was “clearly a mistake on the part of a few employees at a single store.”
The company explained in a statement that it doesn’t have pricing for cases of water in its system, and employees priced the water “by multiplying the cost of one bottle by the number of bottles in a case.” It also noted it was “deeply sorry that we gave anyone even the momentary impression that we were trying to take advantage of the situation.”
The Best Buy location where the photo was taken is now closed because of the storm.
Price-gouging, or charging excessive amounts for necessities during a natural disaster, is illegal in Texas and in most states, with violators subject to fines up to $250,000.