What was the Accusation?
A Houston-area Best Buy apologized on August 30, 2017 following accusations that it was price gouging its customers on bottled water after recent devastation from Hurricane Harvey. A photo, taken by a local resident and shared widely on social media, showed packs of water for $42 dollars which was obviously much higher than the normal retail price for packaged water bottles. Best Buy released a formal statement on its website shifting blame for the incident to employees who had priced the bottles individually and multiplied that number by the total bottles to come up with the exorbitant price. Best Buy spokesperson, Shane Kitzman further explained that the employees opted to make the calculation themselves because Best Buy’s computer system did not have pricing for packaged water.
Key Apologia Strategies:
Minimization, Shifting Blame, Bolstering
Statement on Best Buy Website:
First, this was clearly a mistake in a single store. We feel terrible about this because, as a company we are focused on helping, not hurting people affected by this terrible event. We are all deeply sorry that we gave anyone even the momentary impression that we were trying to take advantage of the situation.
Second, by way of explanation and not as an excuse: we don’t typically sell cases of water and don’t have pricing for it in our computer system. The mistake was made when we priced a case of water by multiplying the cost of one bottle by the number of bottles in a case arriving at a number that is far, far higher than normal.
Finally, please know how much we regret that this happened. 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.
Best Buy statement on water pricing (2017, August 30). Best Buy Website. Retrieved from: https://corporate.bestbuy.com/best-buy-statement-water-pricing/
Jones, C. (2017, August 30). Best Buy says $42 bottled water near Houston was a ‘big mistake’. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/30/best-buy-says-42-96-bottled-water-near-houston-big-mistake/616110001/
Phillips, K., & Shaban, H. (2017, August 30). A $99 case of bottled water? Texas stores accused of price-gouging in wake of Harvey. Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/08/30/99-for-a-case-of-bottled-water-texas-stores-accused-of-price-gouging-in-wake-of-harvey/?utm_term=.c050e3bbc0ee