Update 5:15 p.m.:
Whole Foods Market sent the following response to KPCC regarding the penalties it must pay after a claim it overcharged customers:
Whole Foods Market takes our obligations to our customers very seriously and we strive to ensure accuracy and transparency in everything we do. We cooperated with the city attorneys throughout the process, and based on a review of our own records and a sampling of inspection reports from various city and county inspectors throughout California, our pricing on weighed and measured items was accurate ninety-eight percent of the time. 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 will pay about $800,000 in penalties and fees after an investigation found the grocery retailer was overcharging customers in California.
During an investigation lasting over a year, state and local inspectors found the following pricing violations throughout Whole Foods markets in the state, according to a statement from the city attorney's office released Tuesday:
- Failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up charges for self-serve foods at the salad bar and hot bar;
- Giving less weight than the amount stated on the label, for packaged items sold by the pound; and
- Selling items by the piece, instead of by the pound as required by law (such as kebabs and other prepared deli foods)
Whole Foods must pay penalties to various government entities and appoint pricing accuracy managers, each of the Whole Foods stores in California will face random audits four time a year.
"We're taking action to assure consumers get what they pay for,'' Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in the statement. "No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market.''
The settlement agreement, which covers all 74 Whole Foods markets in the state, was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court and will remain in effect for five years, attorneys said.
Whole Foods said in a statement that it cooperated with the investigation and found that prices were accurate 98 percent of the time. The grocery retailer said it will improve internal procedures to reduce human error.