TIME Retail

Whole Foods Must Pay $800,000 for Overcharging Customers

A customer carries shopping bags outside of a Whole Foods in El Segundo, Calif., Nov. 5, 2013.
A customer carries shopping bags outside of a Whole Foods in El Segundo, Calif., Nov. 5, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

The grocery chain was finagling prices across its California locations, according to the Los Angeles Attorney's office

A year-long investigation into Whole Foods Markets for overcharging customers in California has uncovered widespread pricing violations, officials said Tuesday, and will result in an $800,000 settlement for the grocery chain.

Inspectors found that Whole Foods was charging more than the advertised price for a variety of food items, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Locations often employed tactics like adding the weight of containers when charging for food at the salad bar and hot bar, or including less than the weight advertised for items sold by the pound.

“We’re taking action to assure consumers get what they pay for,” Feuer said in a statement. “No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market.”

Whole Foods agreed to appoint two officials to oversee pricing accuracy throughout California and assign one employee in each store to oversee how much it is charging customers.

The chain’s $800,000 penalty will be divided out into $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to a statewide consumer protection trust fund, and $68,394 in investigative costs, Feuer said.

Whole Foods said in a statement that its pricing was accurate 98 percent of the time, Reuters reports. “We will continue to refine and implement additional processes to minimize such errors going forward,” it said.

 

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