According to a report released Monday, Whole Foods agrees to settle overcharging allegations for $500,000. The organic food retailer also agreed to conduct regular audits to make sure that New York City customers won’t be overcharged in the future.
The money will go to New York City’s treasury, the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs said. City officials initiated an investigation into the matter earlier this year after allegations had surfaced that the retailer did not properly label and weighed its prepackaged foods.
As of June, investigators reported that they had analyzed 80 types of Whole Foods products and learned that each and every one of them carried erroneous information related to weight. For instance, customers had to pay an extra $5 for a mislabeled package of chicken tenders or nearly $15 for mislabeled coconut shrimp.
That June report sparked national outrage and the two CEOs of the retailer had to appear in a short clip and apologize to overcharged NYC customers. Nevertheless, the scandal negatively impacted sales and customers’ trust in the company.
But CEO John Mackey said a few months ago that he was unable to grasp why his company was pilloried for the issue when other supermarkets also engage in similar practices. The grocery giant pledged this summer to take the necessary measures to prevent overcharging customers such as special training for new employees. The company also said that it would compensate customers if they found mislabeled products.
Additionally, the company announced that it had partnered with independent auditors to check its pricing accuracy. Yet, New York City officials initially asked $1.5 million to settle the issue outside court. In the end, the supermarket chain agreed to pay $500,000 to “put this issue behind us,” as one of the CEOs put it.
But late this summer, Whole Foods was involved in another scandal when a Los Angeles reporter grabbed a photo of an out-of-ordinary product that was selling for a lot more than it was worth. The photo went viral on the social media, and Whole Foods was again put in a bad light.
In at least one location, the retailer was selling three stalks of asparagus in a bottle half filled with water for $5.99. The product which was branded ‘Asparagus Water’ was spotted on the shelves of a California Whole Foods store.
Whole Foods tried to fix its image back then saying that the grocery chain didn’t really sell Asparagus Water in its locations. It also said that the water was supposed to carry the essence of the veggies just like bone broth. But because it was produced incorrectly, the company pledged to remove it from shelves.
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