Consumers fed up with the eye-watering price of bottled water in airports have an unlikely champion: Kitson Stores, an LA-based boutique retailer where T-shirts can cost $300. Kitson is in a contract dispute with Hudson Group—which operates dozens of stores at Los Angeles International Airport and hundreds more at airports across the country—and is suing Hudson for "gouging" passengers with bottled water that costs nearly $5, NBC News reports. A Kitson lawyer tells the AP that Hudson, which operates two stores at LAX for Kitson, "is taking advantage of the post-9/11 airport restrictions" and refused to sell liter bottles of water for $2.55 at the Kitson stores it operates because it was making too much money selling water at higher prices elsewhere.
According to airport authority rules, products sold in LAX terminals cannot be priced more than 18% above their "street value," NBC notes. With $5 water, "I don't know what street that is, but that's not my street," a Kitson spokeswoman tells Forbes. Hudson, which accuses Kitson of angling to get its own airport retail space, counters that Kitson only started trying to sell water after it was accused of breach of contract when its founder turned up at the airport stores to berate employees. Anyone who thinks that the company is motivated "by an altruistic concern over how much consumers are paying for water at LAX has either never shopped at a Kitson store or is really naive," a Hudson lawyer tells the AP. (A military contractor pleaded guilty last year to massively inflating prices of items, including water.)