Whole Foods Gets Hit With Large Fine For Cheating Customers By Overcharging Them
A visit to Whole Foods is almost certain to result in overhearing at least one person saying something along the lines of "It should be against the law to charge this much for so-and-so…."
Such suspicions have turned out to be correct, at least in California.
The Post-Periodical reports that the infamously expensive grocery store has agreed to pay almost $800,000 after it was found to be overcharging customers all throughout the state.
After a year-long investigation, state and county authorities discovered that Whole Foods was not deducting the weight of containers when charging for self-serve items, over-exaggerating the weight of items sold by the pound, and selling certain deli foods by the piece instead of by the pound, which is required by law.
Whole Foods will pay $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to a California consumer protection trust fund and the $68,394 it cost to run the investigation.
Of the civil penalties, $210,000 will go to the city attorneys of Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Diego, who brought the case against Whole Foods Market California Inc and Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets Inc, the two subsidiaries that operate the Southern California stores.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer told the Post-Periodical,
We’re taking action to assure customers get what they pay for. No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market.
All 74 Whole Foods in California are also subject to a five-year court injunction requiring them to assign an employee to ensure fair and accurate prices and undergo random price-checking audits four times a year.
Whole Foods spokesperson Marci Frumkin said the company voiced no objection to the agreement and that a review of the retailer's records found that their prices for weighed items were correct 98 percent of the time.
While we realize that human error is always possible, we will continue to refine and implement additional processes to minimize such errors going forward.
Prosecutors cited kebabs as the deli item most frequently overpriced.