Wow! That’s the worst example of customer gouging I’ve heard of in the comic industry. I don’t like all the variant covers either but at least you can still get the whole story without chasing variants. But what you just described was awful.
Variant covers wouldn't bother me so much but since I didn't scan Previews or Wizard religiously I didn't always know when variants were coming, and didn't have my clerk pull the one I wanted. If I had a pull list going, the clerk would make the choice for me or I could substitute with a copy off the rack but generally, the choice I would have made was not what I ended up with.