Is Bunnings trying to cash in on our water crisis?
WITH the drought far from breaking, one Lismore retailer has reported its 1000L water containers flying off the shelves.
While Norco has kept the price of these highly sought-after necessity items the same at $396 for "quite some time", Bunnings Warehouse in South Lismore is selling a similar 1000L water container for $559.
The same water container can also be found for sale on eBay for $325.
Norco chairman Greg McNamara said a discounted price on a Norco 1000L water container was available for residents directly impacted by bushfires.
"We can't keep up with this product and they are selling very fast," he said.
"Bushfire affected residents can apply for a reduced price ‒ they just need to go into a Norco store and talk to us directly about that.
"We want to offer customers something that's affordable to get them through these water issues."
He praised Rous County Council for installing a new water fill station in North Lismore for use by the public in response to intense drought conditions, which had led to an increase in demand for water carters and delays in supply.
"Our job here is to make sure during this horrific drought that we can help farmers as much as we can," Mr McNamara said.
"We are here to support the farmers throughout the drought, not to take advantage of them."
Bunnings Warehouse regional operations manager, Alan Harvey, said following customer requests, the Lismore warehouse ordered a small quantity of water containers.
"These containers are brand new and certified as safe for holding drinking water fit for human consumption," Mr Harvey said.
"We are aware of other retailers who are selling a similar item and our understanding of these is that they are refurbished, second hand containers that are not certified.
"If it eventuates that our understanding is not correct we would be more than happy to compensate any customer who has purchased one of these in line with our price guarantee of matching our competitor's price and beating it by 10 per cent."
Greg McNamara said while Norco's water container wasn't certified, it was "exactly the same as Bunnings."
"The container for $396 is a food-grade product and has been washed and sterilised," he said.
"There is a cheaper option for a non-food-grade container."
Bunnings chief operating officer, Debbie Poole, said the stores have, and always will, be an integral part of each community in which they serve.
"Their local connections run deep with team living, working and raising their families within these communities," she said.
"In tragedies such as the one we are experiencing, Bunnings team members have stepped up, providing products, time and services to those in need, supporting emergency services and those who've lost homes, businesses and livelihoods.
She said close to 100 of Bunnings' own team members have taken paid time away from work to fight fires.