It's time for some damage control.
Sony has issued an apology to U.K. fans after it jacked up the price of two Whitney Houston albums by an astounding 60 percent Saturday night, in the immediate aftermath of the singer's death.
Naturally, it wasn't long before outraged fans took the label to task for what seemed to be a greedy attempt to capitalize on her passing. Or was it all just an innocent accident?
At the very least, it was a major PR blunder, though the label has since broken its silence on the perceived cash grab. Turns out...
According to Sony, the gouging, ill-timed price hike was not intentional.
"Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the U.K. iTunes store on Sunday," the label said in a statement. "When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused."
Adding to what the label is dismissing as simply a coincidence (albeit an eyebrow-raising one) is the fact that the two albums struck by the pricing mishap, Ultimate Collection and Greatest Hits, were Houston's compilation discs, the two most likely to be purchased by nostalgic, mourning or just curious fans.
Ultimate Collection jumped in price a whopping 60 percent above its regular list price (from $7.85 to $12.50), while the Greatest Hits album saw a 25 percent increase in its cost (from $12.50 to $15.67).
A source at the label further sought to distance the record company from the blame of the incident, telling the New York Times that the price hike was down to an error made by one of its British employees. However, Britain's Guardian claims the decision was made after execs decided—after Whitney's death—that the wholesale price it currently listed for her Ultimate Collection album was wrong, and that the change in wholesale price resulted in the retail price increasing.
Still, while the cost no doubt smarted and irked online consumers, it certainly didn't seem to deter them: sales of Houston's albums have skyrocketed in the days since her death, as six of her titles are currently in the Billboard top 20 album charts stateside. In the U.K., just one day after the pricing gaffe, both of the two albums in question had made it into the top three of the iTunes album chart.