Did Whole Foods Rip Customers Off Or Are They Being Attacked?

By Heather Callaghan

Just whose side is Whole Foods on anyway?

They cover up that some of their produce was grown in human sewage…then rectify it. Then they offer small business loans to farmers. They get caught serving GMOs…then they offer to require labeling and to the extra mile to install a new quality rating system.

It seems like they could save a lot of money and heartache by doing the right thing in the beginning. Especially since its shoppers also call it Whole Paycheck Market. Or, have they been doing right by us and are simply the victims of bureaucratic natural haters?

Now, Gothamist reports, that Whole Foods has further tested the trust of its devoted fan base by allegedly overcharging the daylights out of them.

An investigation by the city’s [in New York] Department of Consumer Affairs has uncovered some shady price tags at our fleet of Whole Foods stores that show customers have been overcharged for their already pricey pre-packaged goods. “DCA tested packages of 80 different types of pre-packaged products and found all of the products had packages with mislabeled weights,” according to a DCA press release.

The investigation looked at products that are weighed and labeled and found a “systematic problem” whereby customers were routinely overcharged for things like nuts, snack foods, poultry and other grocery products. Eight packages of chicken tenders—priced at $9.99 per pound—were inaccurately priced and labeled to the tune of a $4.13 overcharge to the customer per package, a store profit of $33.04 for the set. DCA says one package was overpriced as much as $4.85. “Additionally, 89 percent of the packages tested did not meet the federal standard for the maximum amount that an individual package can deviate from the actual weight, which is set by the U.S. Department of Commerce.” 

According to data obtained by the Daily News, the Union Square location was the naughtiest of any store in the city since 2014, with 15 mislabeled packages discovered over two inspections. Following closely behind, the Tribeca Whole Foods (14 overcharges) and Brooklyn location (13 overcharges) also discovered during two inspections. The chain’s Chelsea location came in fifth place with eight overcharges, with the 14th Street Garden of Eden nestled in between.

In the past, WF was fined almost $800,000 for not declaring tare weight and other weight discrepancies. An anonymous employee allegedly blabbed to Gothamist that there was a problem with incompetence, apathy and lack of training. (I can hear WF typing up a non-disclosure form as we speak…) They can be fined thousands for these accusations.

Whole Foods issued this statement today to NBC New York:

We disagree with the DCA’s overreaching allegations and we are vigorously defending ourselves. We cooperated fully with the DCA from the beginning until we disagreed with their grossly excessive monetary demands. Despite our requests to the DCA, they have not provided evidence to back up their demands nor have they requested any additional information from us, but instead have taken this to the media to coerce us. Our customers are our number one stakeholder and we highly value their trust in us.

It’s all too easy to throw stones at Whole Foods – the media would love to see the titan fall. But would customers like it? And it’s important to remember that the supplement and natural health industry has been on the establishment chopping block since the 1990s. Codex continues to circle America like a buzzard.

C’mon Whole Foods – you can do your due diligence and if not budge a little on prices, then make sure the Department of Consumer Affairs turns out to be blatantly wrong. You have competition that follows you; it’s online too.

Perhaps DCA will be sued for libel  – or at least eat organic crow at $14.99 per pound.

Read more at Gothamist and TIME

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

This article can be republished from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving full attribution (Creative Commons).

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