Whole Foods Market Pays Massive Fine in NYC Overcharging Scandal

whole foods market pays fine in overcharging scandal

After a scandal that found Whole Foods Market significantly overcharged customers on some of its prepackaged foods in New York City, the chain has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the investigation.

While the chain is adamant that the errors were not “systematic or intentional misconduct”—it points to cases of undercharging as well—it says paying the fine will help the company to “put this issue behind us,” according to a statement on its website.

“While WFM refused to consider the DCA’s initial demands of $1.5 million, we agreed to $500,000 in order to put this issue behind us so that we can continue to focus our attention on providing our New York City customers with the highest level of quality and service.”

The issues were discovered in June, when the New York Department of Consumer Affairs cited “thousands” of possible violations for overcharging on approximately 80 prepackaged and weighed foods sold throughout the city.

“At the time, Whole Foods said it had been working with the DCA on a settlement for several months but had abandoned talks after the agency made ‘grossly excessive monetary demands’,” Bloomberg.com reports.

After the scandal, Whole Foods’ co-founder and CEO, John Mackey and Walter Robb, released a video statement, promising to begin conducting quarterly audits throughout the stores on pricing for its prepackaged products in order to ensure accurate pricing.

The scandal only contributed to Whole Foods’ expensive image, one that’s earned it the nickname, “Whole Paycheck.”

The company is slated to open a new chain of stores in early 2016 called 365 by Whole Foods. The name comes from the private label brand of products already sold in Whole Foods’ stores. The first 365 store will open in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. Twitter @jillettinger | www.jillettinger.com.