Whole Foods Being Investigated for Intentionally Overcharging Customers


Whole Foods is under fire (again) for their overcharging their customers as far back as 2010.

The chain known for organic foodstuffs, and somehow taking all of your rent money with the purchase of just two bags of groceries, is being investigated by the Department of Consumer Affairs, according to the Daily News. Last fall, the organization dinged Whole Check (yes, you read that nickname correctly) for overcharging customers for the weight of pre-packed goods. 80 different containers filled with various items were weighed at eight separate Whole Foods locations and every label was “inaccurate.”

Naturally, Whole Check spokesman Michael Sinatra is like ‘Dude, calm down, we didn’t mean to overcharge you guys!’ He added that incorrect priced items could always be refunded. Commissioner Julie Menin had a different take.

“Our inspectors told me it was the worst case of overcharges that they’ve ever seen,” Menin said.

Whole Check has racked up 800 violations over 107 different inspections in the last five years. They’ve paid $58,000 in fines.

The worst offending location is Columbus Circle according to the DCA’s data, with 240 violations alone in five years. Next up are Union Square, Tribeca and Brooklyn. Only the newest Upper East Side Whole Check has a clean DCA record thus far. It opened in February.

The violations include not plainly pricing items, overcharging at the register and straight up making up taxes on items that aren’t taxable under New York state law.

One source told a DCA inspector that the price gauging was mandated by Whole Check executives, which if you think about it is particularly grimy because the store is already wildly expensive.

The New York DCA investigation follows a similar investigation in California, where the chain was recently forced to pay $800,000 in settlement fees.

But one lawyer says if food’s mislabeled, it’s not the grocery stores’ fault, it’s the manufacturer’s burden.

“Because of the volume of product that gets produced unintentional mistakes are made,” said Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations for the Food Industry Alliance of New York, which represents major food retailers and wholesalers in the city. “If a product is delivered to a store pre-packed and pre-sealed and pre-labeled the retailer does not have control over the packaging and weighting.”

Perhaps, but if Whole Check is profiting from these mistakes while selling the idea that customers are paying higher prices for better quality food, it’s a lucrative hustle.

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Image via Getty.

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