Calgary's flooding woes were further exacerbated on Saturday by reports of price-fixing at the hands of greedy merchants, many of whom appeared to be trying to profit from the desperation of people seeking basic supplies.
Enraged citizens took to social media to report being ripped off by some retailers as they tried to stock up on items such as ice, water and food. With shelves in some shops already stripped bare, reports began to surface that some businesses were taking financial advantage of the crisis.
The Twitter hashtag #YYCgreedy began to trend online, a locator reference to Calgary's airport code. Residents took to the micro-blogging service to call for boycotts on certain stores they accused of illegal price-gouging.
A fruit platter at one shop was allegedly being sold for $59, while a liquor store was reportedly hawking a bag of ice for $20.
CBC's Asha Tomlinson, who was monitoring the social media activity, said people had begun taking photos of their receipts as proof, in hopes that businesses engaging in price-gouging will be brought to justice.
'You'll be out of business,' consumers warn
One man photographed a receipt showing that he paid $48.72 for a pack of 24 bottles of water, commenting on Twitter, "Talk about taking advantage of a society in crisis."
Peter McPhee tweeted: "It is called Profiteering and several companies in other provinces were convicted in other disasters. Remember that, gougers!"
Brad MacCallum also weighed in: "Think price gouging is a way to make $$? Good luck. You'll be found, pics will be taken, you'll be out of business."
The Calgary police chief says that he's aware of the reports of price-gouging, as is Bruce Burrell, the fire chief and head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA).
"Under the Emergency Management Act in the province of Alberta, price-gouging or price-fixing above normal levels during a state of local emergency is illegal, and it would take some co-operation between ourselves and police, but individuals could be prosecuted for that," Burrell told local Calgary radio station 660 News.
The retailer who sold the 24 bottles of water mentioned in this story later contacted CBC News and said we misunderstood what happened at his store. The retailer said the Aquafina 591-ml bottles of water are sold individually and are not for sale by the case. The retailer said the customer who purchased the water was told he would be charged for 24 individual bottles, but the customer still insisted on completing the purchase. The store owner said the receipt indicates that the 24 bottles of water were bought at the regular price of $1.91 each, plus deposit.Jun 25, 2013 3:46 PM MT