UPDATE, Aug. 7, 8:15 p.m. HST: The person who posted the Craigslist ad requesting cases of water for $250 contacted HuffPost and said the ad was not a serious request. The unnamed poster intended to identify people who were willing to "take advantage of others here in Hawaii." Their response below:
this is not a serious request for water. We created this posting to try to find would would [sic] reply trying to take advantage of others here in Hawaii. We got an overwhelming number of responses of peoples [sic] real names as they tried to rip me off by offering to sell me water for 250 or sometimes even more.
we may post are [sic] findings later
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an official emergency proclamation as Hurricanes Iselle and Julio churn towards Hawaii, and demand for emergency supplies is getting extreme.
When news of the two storms started to sink in, the first thing immediately cleared from store shelves was bottled water, people began tweeting and Instagramming the frenzy at Costco, Wal-Mart, and supermarkets.
One Craigslister on Oahu even offered $250 for a case of water on Tuesday. That's 50 times its normal cost:
While it's unclear whether the original poster is serious (as of Thursday evening, HuffPost has not received a response after a request for comment and stores in the poster's alleged area still had water in stock during the time of posting), other Craigslist sellers and stores throughout the islands seem to be taking advantage of residents' desperation as they prepare for the worst. Craigslist ads are selling cases for $24 a pop; one gallon of unfiltered tap water is going for $10.
This, at a time when public water services are still operational across the state.
To prevent businesses from gouging prices, Hawaii's Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) placed a price cap on consumer goods statewide, which was activated on Wednesday in conjunction with the governor's disaster declaration and is set to last until Aug. 16. The cap requires businesses to maintain selling prices at pre-emergency levels for items such as water, food, ice and emergency supplies. Violations can lead to severe fines and penalties, but businesses can avoid these by rolling back prices and reimbursing customers.
The OCP has been investigating any complaints made by consumers and while some businesses were in clear violation, Brent Suyama, communications officer for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, believes some customers might be confused by higher prices in stores that do not normally sell bottled water in bulk.
"I'm not saying this true in all of the cases [we're investigating]," Suyama told HuffPost, "but some stores sell bottles individually and people are used to paying the $2 for a bottle of water and not the $20 for the entire case. They're just not doing the math."
So far, no businesses have been found guilty of such violations, Suyama said, but they continue to investigate each complaint and give businesses a chance to reverse any possible violations.
CORRECTION: A previous headline for this article suggested the Craigslist ad was selling bottle water for $250, rather than offering that sum.