Whole Foods Fined for Overcharging California Customers
Just last week we went into Whole Foods for quinoa and came out with one $150 grocery bag of God-knows-what (we think Parmesan crisps, an organic T-shirt and beer made by Franciscan friars was in there). We are used to, but puzzled by, this phenomenon. So we were more than a little annoyed when we learned that Whole Foods has just been slapped with a fine for engaging in tom-dickery with their pricing throughout the state of California.
After a year-long investigation, the attorneys general of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Monica took the supermarket chain to task for failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for self-serve foods from the salad bar and hot bar, overstating the weight of products sold by the pound, and selling prepared deli foods by the piece rather than by the pound, as required by law.
The chain has been smacked with an $800,000 fine, and all 74 stores in the state are subject to a five-year court injunction. That includes $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to a statewide consumer protection trust fund and $68,394 in investigation costs.
Under the terms of the agreement, Whole Foods must appoint two state coordinators to oversee pricing accuracy at all of its stores in California and designate an employee at each store to be responsible for ensuring correct pricing. The chain also must conduct random price-check audits at each store quarterly.
"While we realize that human error is always possible, we will continue to refine and implement additional processes to minimize such errors going forward," Whole Foods spokesperson Marci Frumkin told the Post-Periodical. She insisted that pricing for weighted and measured items was accurate 98 percent of the time.
There are 10 Whole Foods markets in the city of Los Angeles.
Despite the ruling, you're still going to pay $8 a pound for mac and cheese.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.