W-holy moly! City probes Whole Foods for overcharging New Yorkers
Report: Columbus Circle Whole Foods worst offender; grocer denies 'deceptive practices.'
You may want to bring your own scale next time you go shopping at Whole Foods.
The city Department of Consumer Affairs has found weights printed on the labels of prepackaged items are often wrong -- mostly in the store’s favor -- and that New Yorkers are getting overcharged.
The Daily News broke the story late Tuesday night and noted that the city conducted stings in more than 100 other grocery stores around the city and 77 percent were hit with one or more violations.
Whole Foods Market, with eight locations in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, was the worst offender, however, The News reported. In a check of 80 items in one undercover operation last fall, DCA found every item mislabeled.
Agency Commissioner Julie Menin said a full-blown probe is underway.
"Our inspectors told me it was the worst case of overcharges that they've ever seen," Menin told the paper.
Whole Foods has "never intentionally used deceptive practices to incorrectly charge customers," says the national chain’s spokesman Michael Sinatra. The company is "vigorously defending" itself, he said.
Sinatra told The Post the store would “refund any items found to have been incorrectly weighed or priced.” (We’re not sure how that works if what’s in the mislabeled packages has already been consumed, but we digress.)
The News filed a Freedom of Information Law request that revealed the chain has been hit with 800 violations in 107 separate inspections since 2010, totaling $58,000 in fines.
The worst offender was the Columbus Circle, which the paper said was hit with 240 of the 800 violations.
The Texas-based grocer has been slapped before with similar allegations.
A year ago this month, Whole Foods was fined $800,000 for overcharging customers throughout California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Times wrote: “Problems included failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up fresh food, putting smaller amounts into packages than the weight stated on the label, and selling items by the piece instead of by the pound, as required by law.”