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Whole Foods Fined For Overcharging Californians

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Muchos Mangos. Mucho dinero. (Photo by howard-f via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The ‘Whole Foods, whole paycheck’ joke is a lot funnier now that the grocery chain will have to pay nearly $800,000 in penalties for overcharging California customers. Investigators spent a year looking for pricing inaccuracies, a release from Adam Radinsky of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office says, and eventually determined that Whole Foods charged more than advertised for several items in many different ways.

Here’s how:

  • Whole Foods may not have deducted the weight of containers when customers bought food from the salad or hot bars.
  • When it comes to products sold by the pound, Whole Foods may have actually sold less than the weight printed on the label.
  • Some items that legally must be sold by the pound, such as deli items, were sold by the price.
  • Whole Foods is now required to select to “state coordinators” and one employee for each store who will oversee pricing throughout California and make sure it’s accurate. They also must pay $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to a “statewide weights and measures enforcement trust fund,” and $68,394 to cover the cost of the investigation. Total, that’s $798,394.

    There are 74 Whole Food stores in the entire state, and the court injunction applies to every one of them. It will also last for five years.

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    Radinksy said he hopes this will “serve as a wake-up call” to other stores to make sure their “per-pound charges are accurate.” “Consumers have a right to accurate pricing, and the right to pay for only what they bought."