After several complaints have been made by NY customers, backed up by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Whole Foods pays $500.000 settlement for overcharging allegations, effectively dodging an impending lawsuit. These claims have been surfacing since the month of June in 2015, and in some cases, they weren’t restricted to New York City stores only.
But this payment does not in any way put a stop to the conflict, it merely postpones it. The NYC department will continue its surveillance concerning prices applied to pre-packaged products over the course of 2016.
Various products were found to be overpriced in regards to their weight, with a difference in price ranging from $0.80 for a pack of pecan panko to $14.84 for coconut shrimp packages. Other meat, dairy and baked goods weights have been overstated routinely over the course of last year, resulting in the creation of several investigations across the US.
The Department of Consumer Affairs estimated that the damage cost would reach $1.5 million in the ongoing investigation, money used to conduct reparations. But the Whole Foods company agreed to immediately pay only $500.000 in order to conclude the overcharge inquiry.
The retail store company has claimed that it uses third-party training and auditing programs, in regards to product pricing, that effectively give an alleged 100% accuracy in prices. If customers complain about the possibility of a product misprice, pre-existing company programs allow for a full refund.
Cases in San Francisco have also appeared in the past few months, with people being overpriced for chicken meat products. For example, a mother of two purchased a whole fryer chicken which would usually cost $12 for 45$ after the butcher labeled it as an organic chicken breast instead. True, the price was refunded after the complaint was made, but given the fact that you have two toddlers, going back and forth to the store in order to solve overpricing issues is a pretty arduous task.
Other complaints regarding double-pricing for different products have also emerged, making customers feel the need to check time and time again their receipts in order to see if the calculations were made accurately, without any faults. This is rather preposterous, considering that the store itself should have the responsibility to provide 100% price accuracy.
The settlement pay is not the only order to which Whole Foods must abide too in NYC. In-store audits for a minimum of 50 items from 10 different stores will be conducted each quarter, and if overpricing is discovered, the product will be removed from the store to be relabeled accordingly. In addition, 20 more items from the same department will have to be checked by Whole Foods for accuracy, if the aforementioned event occurs.
Although Whole Foods pays $500.000 settlement for overcharging allegations, this will only make a small dent in the extremely popular market company’s funds. What is interesting is that said company is still making profits each year, even if a large majority of people are claiming that their prices are incredibly high, forcing them to shop at local high-end grocery stores which provide lower prices. Because of this, some even wonder how Whole Foods is able to keep itself afloat.