Whole Foods penalised $500,000 for overcharging for prepackaged foods

29 December 2015

Whole Foods said yesterday, it would pay New York City $500,000 to settle allegations of overcharging customers for prepackaged foods.

According to the city's Department of Consumer Affairs, the settlement also required Whole Foods Market Inc to conduct quarterly audits to ensure products were accurately weighed and labeled.

In June, the city said, its tests on 80 different types of pre-packaged food at Whole Foods found mislabeled weights on every one. According to the city, the overcharging included $4.85 for a package of chicken tenders and $14.84 for coconut shrimp.

The investigation prompted Whole Foods co-CEOs John Mackey and Walter Robb to apologise in an online video. Whole Foods said the bad publicity affected sales.

Mackey had earlier expressed bewilderment over why ''Whole Foods was singled out for this attention,'' saying that he doesn't think the company's track record on the matter is any different from other supermarkets.

The grocery chain had nevertheless said over the summer that it would take steps to prevent overcharging, including training for workers, and pledged to give away products if customers discovered they were mispriced.

Whole Foods had also put in place third-party audits to ensure accuracy in pricing, spokesman Michael Silverman said in an emailed statement.

Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner Julie Menin said, "after discovering the troubling and repeated mislabelling of pre-packaged goods at Whole Foods last year, we are happy to have reached an agreement with Whole Foods that will help to ensure New Yorkers are better protected from overcharging, nydailynews.com reported.

"Whether it's a bodega in the Bronx or a national grocery store in Manhattan, we believe every business needs to treat its customers fairly and, with this agreement, we hope Whole Foods will deliver on its promise to its customers to correct their mistakes. DCA will also continue its vigilance in making sure New Yorkers are protected every time they check out at the grocery."

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