Whole Foods Charged with Overcharging Customers in California

Whole Foods Markets agreed on Tuesday to pay a fine of $800,000 following an investigation that the chain of supermarkets had overcharged its customers in the state of California, said officials from the state on Tuesday.

Local and state inspectors found that during an investigation of more than one year, that the supermarket chain charged more for many products than what the advertised price actually was, according to Mike Feuer an Attorney with the City of Los Angeles.

Problems included not subtracting during checkout the weight of the containers at the salad bar, giving less weight than what had been shown on their labels for items sold by the pound.

In addition, Whole Foods sold items like deli foods and kebab by each piece instead of the pound, as the law requires.

The supermarket chain agreed it would pay civil penalties of $630,000 to the city attorney in Santa Monica, San Diego and Los Angeles, who filed the case against Whole Foods.

Whole Foods must also pay another $100,000 into a protection trust fund for consumer protection as well as another $68,400 for other costs.

The company, based in Austin, Texas also has agreed to an injunction of five-years that requires there be accurate pricing, random audits and more monitoring of pricing practices.

Whole Foods said in a prepared statement that it had cooperated fully with the authorities and that 98% of the time its pricing had been accurate.

The statement said the company would continue refining as well as implementing additional processes to lower the probability they would take place in the future.

Whole Foods has 74 stores it operates within California.

One employee at each Whole Foods store will be designated to verify the pricing and to conduct audits on a random basis four time each year to ensure that all policies have remained in force and are being handled correctly.

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