News | Trending

Some Stores In Houston Are Gouging Hurricane Survivors When They Need Help Most

Despite all the shocking footage recorded of Hurricane Harvey's devastation, this is the one photo of the disaster that everyone can't stop sharing:

A Best Buy in Houston was caught with huge markups on bottled water. A 12-pack of SmartWater was marked at $29.98, while a 24-pack of Dasani water was $42.96. Needless to say, people were outraged by what they saw as a case of coldhearted price gouging - or hiking prices during an emergency. But it turns out there was more to the story.

Best Buy doesn't normally sell cases of bottled water, but to help customers during the storm staff at this location put packs of the individual drinks on display. To calculate the price for the pack, they multiplied the individual drink price, a mistake that lead to the misunderstanding.

“It was an isolated incident in one store, on one day. We feel especially bad given that thousands of our friends and colleagues are affected by the hurricane," a Best Buy spokesperson said in a statement. But lots of other stores in southeast Texas didn't have their good intentions.

While Texas has laws against price gouging during a state-wide emergency, that hasn't stopped small businesses from taking advantage of desperate locals. The Texas Attorney General's office says they've already received more than 600 complaints.

And some of the examples they shared are just awful.

While Best Buy's $43 water bottles were a mistake, other stores have been caught selling cases at $99 each.

Skyrocketing gas prices are one of the most common ways to cheat desperate people during emergencies, but prices have mostly stayed level following the hurricane. The average price across Houston is currently $2.17, compared to $2.12 a week ago.

But some convenience stores have charged up to $3.50 per gallon, along with exorbitant prices for essentials like $8.50 for a water bottle. One location raised their price to an unbelievable $20 per gallon before customers reported them.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says even hotels have raised their rates, some by as much as 7 times the going rate for a room. Best Western cut ties with one location near Corpus Christi after it was reveled they were charging evacuees $290 a night for rooms that were normally $149.

Companies caught hiking their prices before this emergency is finished could be fined $25,000, or as much as $250,000 if their victims are over 65. Plus, Governor Greg Abbott said over-charging needy people is "un-Texan."

Is it fair for businesses to raise their prices after the hurricane? Share this story and tell us what you think!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: