Target Store Charges $72 for 24 Bottles of Water in Cyclone-Hit Australian Town
A Target in the town of Bowen in Queensland, Australia has been accused of "price-gouging" customers by taking advantage of the area's clean water shortage in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
A customer named Natalie Maher shared a photo online of a 24-pack of Cool Ridge brand bottled water being sold in the store for AUD $72 (USD $54). She wrote on Facebook that she thought the price was a mistake but an employee said the price was correct.
"Talk about price gaugeing [sic] us while we are in need," she stated. "I had only just left the disaster recovery people with lifeline there who gave me 12 bottles of water to bring home so we have clean drinking water and Target are [sic] pulling this stunt."
Local media outlets found the same Cool Ridge 24-pack sold at Staples for $36.99. Also, a 12-pack of Mount Franklin water, a similar brand to Cool Ridge, is sold at Coles supermarkets for $6.40, or $12.80, for two 12-packs. Coles is owned by Wesfarmers, the same parent company as Target. And, it's important to note that "despite the similar logo, name and type of outlets, there is no corporate connection to Target in the United States, nor has there ever been one," according to Wikipedia.
Target has since apologized. A company spokeswoman said that the $72 sign was a "misunderstanding." The store did not increase the price of water and has always sold water for $3 a bottle.
"It was an unfortunate misunderstanding at store level. A worker thought they were helping the community by selling the water by the slab," she said. "But we don't sell water by the slab, only individually."
The spokeswoman added that the price has been reduced to $1 a bottle to help the flood-hit community.