In her seven years as attorney general, Pam Bondi has been a crusader against price gouging whenever the governor declares a state of emergency.
On Tuesday, a day after Hurricane Irma left the state a battered mess, Bondi’s office issued a news release that was intended to promote companies that were rushing emergency supplies to Florida without gouging residents.
But the release came across as more of a sales flyer for Home Depot than an anti-price gouging message from the attorney general.
The headline on the release read: One Million Bottles of Water Headed to Florida, Selling for $2.97 a Case.
That’s right. Just $2.97 a case.
In the days before Irma hit Florida there were stores selling bottled water in Tallahassee for a $1.99 a case. That’s a 40 percent difference. Is a 40 percent difference enough to be considered price gouging? Should the attorney general be pushing the sell of water by a private corporation? Should the Sav-A-Lot on South Monroe in Tallahassee be highlighted by the attorney general for selling cases of water for nearly a dollar less than Home Depot?
The release went on to say:
The Home Depot trucks are carrying cases of water, plywood, generators, and electrical cords, among other items. The supplies are headed to South Florida, and will be sold at normal prices. The company is shipping additional supplies in the coming days—with more than a million bottles of water expected before the end of the week. Additionally, Home Depot will sell the water for less than three dollars a case.
The release quoted Bondi as saying: “That is why I am grateful for our good businesses like Home Depot that are rushing essential supplies to Florida and keeping the price of those items stabilized.”
There was no release when 7-Eleven, WinnDixie, or even Anheuser-Busch offered free, that’s right, free bottles of water to Floridians.
Attorney General Bondi should be commended for her efforts to protect Floridians from price gouging. But maybe she should be a little more careful in the way she promotes those efforts.
Perhaps the next time the headline should focus more on price gouging and less on cases of bottled water going for just $2.97, especially when so many Floridians are hurting.
Seriously, you take the $2.97 reference out of the headline and it’s just another one of those news releases that is opened and deleted by most reporters.
Below is the original release: