Whole Foods CEOs Admit To “Unintentional” Overcharging

In 2014, California regulators caught Whole Foods overcharging customers, and things have only gotten worse for the upscale grocery store chain, which is currently under investigation for similar allegations in New York (where it also faces a civil suit from customers). That’s why Whole Foods’ co-CEOs issued a joint, heavily qualified, mea culpa about the situation.

Company founder John Mackey and his co-CEO Walter Robb released the above video on Wednesday, where they acknowledge that Whole Foods did indeed overcharge customers on its packaged food items.

“Straight up, we made some mistakes,” says Robb in the video. “We wanna own that and tell you what we’re doing about it.”

Mackey admits that “a very, very small percentage” of pre-packaged food items like sandwiches, fresh-squeezed juices, and cut fruit may have had weighing errors, but Robb contends these that these were “unintentional because the mistakes are both in the customers’ favor and sometimes not in the customers’ favor.”

“It’s understandable that sometimes mistakes are made,” says Robb. “They’re inadvertent, they do happen, because it’s a hands-on approach to bringing you the fresh food.”

New York City inspectors have reportedly found more than 800 violations at Whole Foods stores in the city since 2010, with overcharges ranging from $.80 to nearly $15.

“We’re going to increase our training in our New York stores and around the country because we want to be perfect in this area,” says Mackey. “We don’t there to ever be any mistakes.”

The company says it is implementing a third-party auditing system to track the progress of its efforts to curb weighing errors and will begin issuing progress reports in 45 days.

“We want to give a 100% guarantee to our customers,” concludes Mackey. “If you think there is a mistake in any of our fresh products, ask the cashier to check on it. And if there’s a mistake that’s not in your favor, we promise to give you that item for free.”

Both Mackey and Robb say they will personally read all of the e-mails sent to feedback@wholefoodsmarket.com. That should make for interesting chatter around the co-CEO water cooler.

Among the California overcharging allegations, which Whole Foods agreed to pay $800,000 to settle, were claims that stores failed to deduct the weight of product containers when calculating the price for pre-packaged foods, in violation of state law.

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