Much of Houston and the surrounding areas are still under an unprecedented amount of water and thousands of people are still stranded. Approximately 50 counties in Texas have flooded and an estimated 30,000 citizens are in shelters.
Rebuilding hasn’t even begun yet and countless people have yet to be rescued, but electronic retail giant Best Buy has just shocked every desperate victim in the state with what they have suddenly decided to do.
The rescue efforts are overwhelming with approximately 56,000 calls pouring into 911 in just the last 15 hours. People are desperate, displaced, and the death toll is rising. Victims have lost everything and it will take years to get their lives back on track, but Best Buy, who has the ability to make a difference, wants to take more from those with nothing.
While good Samaritans from all over the nation are arriving in Texas to do what they can to help, the Best Buy stores already established in the Houston area saw a sick advantage to the devastation. In tragedy and desperation, there are opportunities for humanity, but also depravity, which has just reared its ugly head with this retailer.
The massive store didn’t open their doors to displaced people with nowhere to go, as a shelter to house them, which is understandable. However, what they did instead, was beyond all decency and didn’t go unnoticed.
Capitalism is the cornerstone of the American economy but not in times of natural disaster that’s cost countless people everything they own. Best Buy doesn’t just sell electronics, they also took in a sizeable stock of water for the sole purpose of selling for an astronomical price to desperate people, rather than passing it out to contribute to relief efforts.
This should have been common sense, but the store saw dollar signs instead with this life-sustaining commodity, which in turn led to massive fallout.
“A Best Buy in Texas is facing a torrent of criticism on Tuesday after a journalist posted an image to Twitter showing the electronics store selling water for nearly triple the price in the midst of a natural disaster,” Daily Mail reports.
Best Buy was offering water to flood victims in their area for a whopping $42 for a case of brand name bottled water, or $29 for a discount variety.
“A cursory online search for a 24-pack of Dassani water at 500 ml is priced just above $15.50,” Mail Online pointed out. “Another sign showed a case of Smartwater at $29, with a sign noting there was a ‘limited supply.”
Best Buy received almost immediate backlash for the disgusting abuse of the situation and victims for which they tried to save face but only made it worse. Although they issued a public apology, they used an excuse for to escape complete blame, blaming the obviously intentional price choice on “human error.”
“This was a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday,” a Best Buy spokesman said in a statement, according to Reverpress. “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,” Best Buy added in their statement to media.
It sounds like a complete excuse for despicable behavior since it was advertised at this price. To anyone with half a brain putting it out to the public at that rate should have realized that the price didn’t seem remotely right. Furthermore, a low-level employee couldn’t have put this out there without upper management approval. It passed these checkpoints, which proves it was an intentional price designed to make money on tragedy.
Big box stores are going out of business in droves with the surge of online retail and Amazon taking over. Best Buy had a chance to bring the community together by reaching out, which could have restored customers faith in stores and humanity. Instead, they tried to take whatever they could from people who had lost everything by overcharging for a life-sustaining commodity. For that reason, they just ensured their fate in a free market.
Best Buy was forced to close Friday due to the severity of the storm. Other stores may soon suffer too for this gouging trend they engaged in.
Daily Mail reports:
Klippenstein later tweeted that the alleged price gouging wasn’t unique to the department store, reporting that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had received hundreds of complaints throughout affected areas in the state.
‘Texas AG tells me they received 550 complaints & 225 emails about price gouging, with more coming in consistently,’ Klippenstein later wrote to the social media platform.
Paxton promised in an interview with Fox News that he would crackdown on false pricing during the crisis, warning businesses if they violated the law they would be slapped with a $20,000 fine