Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Here’s Why Bottled Water Is So Expensive on Amazon Right Now

Shoppers in Florida and Texas have lodged price gouging complaints.
Carlos Otero, of St. Petersburg, loads his car with water bottles outside of a Publix grocery store as residents in the area prepare ahead of Hurricane Irma on September 05, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. 
Photographer: Brian Blanco/Getty Images
Updated on

Expensive water is on sale at Amazon.com, prompting accusations that the e-commerce giant is gouging prices to capitalize on back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes afflicting Florida and Texas.

Amazon says it is not gouging— and it is working to prevent the practice on its site. "We do not engage in surge pricing,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are actively monitoring our website and removing offers on bottled water that substantially exceed the recent average sales price. Prices have not widely fluctuated in the last month.”

What many people forget is that Amazon.com Inc. is a marketplace in addition to a retailer. As a platform, the company connects 2 million merchants with 300 million shoppers—taking commissions on each sale—and in this case, Amazon isn’t the seller. That would be "Tal DG," hawking a case of Poland Spring water for $36.72. Another Amazon seller, "BestSource OfficeSupplies," posted a 35-pack of Crystal Geyser water for $31.50. That’s compared to less than $10 at Staples for the same Poland Spring water and $5.63 for the same Crystal Geyser from OfficeDirectSupply.com.