Whole Foods dinged for California price discrepancies

06/26/2014 04:10:00 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Whole Foods Market Inc. agreed to pay $800,000 for overcharging shoppers in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Diego.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said the Austin, Texas-based retailer was responsible for “widespread pricing violations throughout the state of California,” according to a news release.

“We’re taking action to assure consumers get what they pay for,” said Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer, in a news release. “No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market.”

California state and county Weights and Measures inspectors, with the cooperation of Whole Foods, found the retailer charged more than advertised price for food items. Among the charges, according to the release:

  • failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up charges for self-serve foods at the salad bar and hot bar;
  • giving less weight than the amount stated on the label, for packaged items sold by the pound;
  • selling items by the piece, instead of by the pound, as required by law.

Whole Foods agreed to the following for the next five years, as part of the order:

  • appoint two “state coordinators” to oversee pricing accuracy at Whole Foods stores in California;
  • designate an employee at every store in the state responsible for pricing accuracy;
  • conduct random audits at each store four times a year to assure prices are accurate and proper weight is deducted for containers;
  • charge accurate prices and provide advertised weight on all items.

The judgment includes a total of $798,394 in penalties, including $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 paid to a statewide consumer protection trust fund. The LA City Attorney’s office receives $210,000 in civil penalties.



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DRC    
SC  |  June, 27, 2014 at 02:53 PM

This article omits vital info. We've shopped at Whole Foods in more than 10 states and in Canada, and everywhere they do screw up prices - so you have to pay attention. It's just the way it is - Whole Foods does screw up some price generally for produce on almost every visit. But if they do screw up and charge too much, they give you the item for free. All you need to do is go to customer service. Not a bad deal unless you are in a hurry.

Mike    
July, 02, 2014 at 03:56 PM

Too bad the fines levied against Whole Foods don't go back to the consumers that were wrongfully overcharged. They are the true victims.

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