Whole Foods Busted For Overcharging Customers In California

Shopping at Whole Foods can be enough of a drain on your bank account (that’s why they call it Whole Paycheck, right? Right?), so it doesn’t help if the upscale supermarket chain is also involved in some questionable practices that had customers in California paying more than they should have. Today, the company agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a statewide investigation into allegations of overcharging.

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, along with the City Attorneys for Santa Monica and San Diego, announced the settlement this afternoon, saying the deal puts an end to a one-year probe into claims that Whole Foods was charging higher than advertised prices.

Among the problems alleged by investigators:

• That Whole Foods failed to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up charges for self-serve foods at the salad bar and hot bar;

• That the actual weight of packaged food items sold by the pound was less than the weight stated on the label.

• That Whole Foods was selling prepared food and deli items by the piece, instead of by the pound as required by state law.

The settlement, in which Whole Foods admits no wrongdoing, covers all 74 Whole Foods stores in California. In addition to the slap-on-the-wrist $800,000 penalty, there are other restrictions involved in the deal.

For at least the next five years, the company must appoint two “state coordinators” to oversee pricing accuracy at Whole Foods stores throughout California. Each store must designate an employee who will be responsible for checking pricing accuracy. Whole Foods must also conduct four random audits a year at each store to check on the accuracy of prices and that container weights are being deducted correctly.

“No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market,” says Feuer, though we have to admit it’s a state state of affairs when anyone refers to Whole Foods as “their local market.”

Read Comments2

Edit Your Comment

  1. SuperSpeedBump says:

    Once again, no jail-time for fraudulent activity.

    I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where everyone is held accountable for their actions, including all of those corporations that insist they have the same rights as people.

    • furiousd says:

      I like that idea: a five-year sentence for a company and the government runs it and takes the profits for the duration. Or all officers of a publicly-traded company get fired and it becomes a publicly-run company with the profits contributing proportionally to tax returns for those who filed.

      Something I’ve always wondered is why the state assesses fines for fraudulent activity and it doesn’t go to the people who were defrauded. If there’s a fine for someone letting their dog poop on another’s lawn, shouldn’t it go to the person who was wronged and not me driving by who happened to catch them?