By Associated Press

The 74 Whole Foods stores in California will face random quarterly audits.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The 74 Whole Foods stores in California will face random quarterly audits.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Whole Foods will pay about $800,000 in penalties and fees after an investigation found the grocery retailer was overcharging customers in California.

State and local inspectors discovered that purchased foods weighed less than the label advertised and the weight of salad bar containers wasn’t subtracted at checkout, prosecutors said. In addition, the grocer sold prepared foods like kebabs by the item rather than by the pound, as mandated by law.

The pricing discrepancies violated consumer protection laws regarding false advertising and unfair competition, prosecutors said.

Whole Foods must pay $210,000 to each of the city attorneys of Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Diego, who brought the case against the retailer. Whole Foods must also reimburse county and state agencies that conducted the pricing investigation and pay $100,000 to a weights and measurements enforcement fund.

As part of an agreement covering five years, the grocer must appoint state- and store-level pricing accuracy managers, and each of the 74 Whole Foods stores in California will face random quarterly audits.

The consumer protection case was brought against Whole Foods Market California Inc. and Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets Inc., the two subsidiaries of Whole Foods Market Inc. that operate its California stores.

Whole Foods issued a statement noting that the company cooperated with the yearlong investigation and prices were accurate 98 percent of the time. The Austin, Texas-based retailer vowed to improve internal procedures to reduce human error, according to the statement.

Whole Foods to Pay $800,000 for Overcharging California Customers 25 June,2014KQED News Staff and Wires

  • Manda

    I am a WF’s NorCal Team Member and our store is audited every month by our DTS. Not sure how SoCal got away with 4 times a year. Trust is paramount with our customers. You violate that and it can’t be winned back.

    • anon


  • amyinoaktown

    What about reimbursing the customers?? Seems like everyone gets money except the folks who purchased the food. What is WF doing on that end?

    • Natalie Jarman

      Totally agree! Anyone know what law firm is handling the suit?

    • Myles Garcia

      And how do you propose that be done? Do you have all your receipts?

  • Haw Haw

    Yes, the only ones getting repaid here are the public officials whose salaries are paid by taxpayer money already. Whole Foods no doubt made more than 800k scamming customers for years so they are good with this easy deal.

    It’s too bad but I need to boycott Whole Foods from now on.

    • Indigo Mordant

      It’s your own fault for not knowing your own consumer protection laws. Those elected and appointed representatives that you complain about regularly actually do their jobs, unlike you and so many other people who think boycotting (i.e. doing nothing) is an effective political strategy in a world where profits are regularly secured at transnational and international economic tiers. You have a functioning government working for you and yet you elect to act in an arena where you have absolutely no worth, voice, or even stockholder privileges.

      Then again, you don’t really care about the collective welfare of your fellow customers. You are just bitter that you lost some of your money.

      • Haw Haw

        That’s pretty good capitalist gibberish. Blaming the customer for making Whole Foods overcharge them…

        Sorry, but good old fashioned boycotting still works for me. In fact I intend to get my money back by advertising at my business that “Whole Foods employees get 10% off on all purchases”. In reality, they will be paying 10% more. That means YOU.

        See how that works Indignant Moron?

        • Indigo Mordant

          So you’re going to engage in false advertisement to steal money from me like Whole Foods? And you hate paying public servants for doing their jobs? You really do mean it when you say you know good capitalist gibberish. I wasn’t aware I was speaking to an ironic and unrepentant capitalist.

          My apologies.

          • Haw Haw

            With that kind of dysfunctional thinking, you shouldn’t apologize to me. Apologize to your parents.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor