Whole Foods Market Inc. agreed to pay $800,000 for overcharging shoppers in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Diego.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said the Austin, Texas-based retailer was responsible for “widespread pricing violations throughout the state of California,” according to a news release.
“We’re taking action to assure consumers get what they pay for,” said Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer, in a news release. “No consumer should ever be overcharged by their local market.”
California state and county Weights and Measures inspectors, with the cooperation of Whole Foods, found the retailer charged more than advertised price for food items. Among the charges, according to the release:
- failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up charges for self-serve foods at the salad bar and hot bar;
- giving less weight than the amount stated on the label, for packaged items sold by the pound;
- selling items by the piece, instead of by the pound, as required by law.
Whole Foods agreed to the following for the next five years, as part of the order:
- appoint two “state coordinators” to oversee pricing accuracy at Whole Foods stores in California;
- designate an employee at every store in the state responsible for pricing accuracy;
- conduct random audits at each store four times a year to assure prices are accurate and proper weight is deducted for containers;
- charge accurate prices and provide advertised weight on all items.
The judgment includes a total of $798,394 in penalties, including $630,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 paid to a statewide consumer protection trust fund. The LA City Attorney’s office receives $210,000 in civil penalties.