Last week New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs said it was investigating Whole Foods for “systemic overcharging for pre-packaged foods.”
The agency said it tested 80 different kinds of prepackaged products at New York Whole Foods outlets and found all had mislabeled weights. The DCA’s conclusion: “New York City stores routinely overstated the weights of its pre-packaged products — including meats, dairy and baked goods — resulting in customers being overcharged.”
“It is unacceptable that New Yorkers shopping for a summer BBQ or who grab something to eat from the self-service aisles at New York City’s Whole Foods stores have a good chance of being overcharged,” said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin in a statement. “Our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate.”
Wednesday, Whole Foods co-CEOs Walter Robb and John Mackey, in a video released online, acknowledged that customers were charged incorrect prices for some of their products, put the blame on some employees and apologized.
“Straight up, we made some mistakes,” Robb said in the video. “We want to own that and tell you what we’re doing about it.”
The pair explained that the stores’ fresh products, including sandwiches, squeezed juices and hand-cut fruit, were often weighed or labeled improperly, with store employees labeling their pre-packaged products at prices higher than they should have been. Mackey said there have been a “very, very small percentage” of weighing errors.
“It’s understandable; sometimes mistakes were made,” Robb said.
Moving forward, the company says it plans to increase training in its New York stores and elsewhere. They will also start a “third party auditing system” to monitor their progress as they work to address the issue, and will provide the results publicly in 45 days.
Plus, from now on if there’s a mistake not in your favor, they say, you get the item for free.
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