Best Buy apologizes after charging $43 for cases of bottled water near Houston

HOUSTON -- Electronics retailer Best Buy said Wednesday that a viral photo of cases of water selling for more than $40 was "a big mistake."

The photo shows a 12-pack case of Smartwater being advertised for $29.98 each, while 24-packs of Dasani were shown to cost $42.96.

The company was accused of price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and was quickly ridiculed on social media when the photo was posted.

But the company told CNBC that it does not sell water by the case and the signage promoting the offer was a mistake made by several employees.

Best Buy sells individual water bottles at checkout counters.

"This was a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday," a company spokesman told CNBC. "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."

The company issued an official statement on Wednesday:

"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."