Stores Accused of Price Gouging in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

The canned foods section of a Walmart store was almost empty as people prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on August 24, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Stores Accused of Price Gouging in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

"Best Buy doesn't need to sell water at $43 a case. They don't need the money."

In what is being denounced as a blatant attempt to "take advantage" of Hurricane victims to "make easy money," several stores throughout Houston, Texas--the area hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey--are steeply hiking prices on bottled water, Grit Post's Ken Klippenstein reported Tuesday.

"It's taking advantage of people in need to make easy money."
--John McGovern, Houston resident
CNBC has also reported that hotels are "tripling or quadrupling their prices" as Texans attempt to flee the devastating rain.

One image provided to Grit Post by Houston resident Patricia Isaac shows a 24-pack of Nestle bottled water priced at $13.99. There have also been reports of packs of water priced at $99.

"If this isn't price gouging I don't know what is," Isaac said. "On a normal day you get this same case of water for maybe $4.99 or $5.99. With a city in a crisis, why do they want to double the price? This is ridiculous."

Kayleigh Lovvorn, a media relations official at the Office of the Texas Attorney General, told Klippenstein that the scattered reports of price gouging on social media are not merely isolated incidents.

"The Office of the Attorney General currently has received 550 complaints and 225 emails sent to an emergency address set up for consumers, and more are coming in pretty consistently," Lovvorn said. "We have received complaints from consumers as well as some of our employees and investigators in the area concerning price gouging happening with hotels, grocers, fuel providers and (most frequently) fresh water. Unfortunately, price gouging like this can be common following natural disasters."

Houston resident John McGovern concluded that the attempt of many stores to hike prices in the midst of a national disaster amount to "pure greed."

"It's taking advantage of people in need to make easy money playing off fear. Best Buy doesn't need to sell water at $43 a case. They don't need the money."

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