The snarkfest on social media has been in overdrive since the big bosses at Whole Foods came clean about a shocking price sticker scandal and vowed to fix it.
“Straight up, we made some mistakes,” said co-CEO Walter Robb in a YouTube video with co-CEO John Mackey at his side. “We want to own that.”
“Any errors were unintentional, and any claim that we are “systematically overcharging” customers is completely inaccurate,” the pair said in an additional online posting.
Many of the comments say that the only thing Whole Foods is really sorry about is getting caught. Again.
It doesn’t help that California inspectors found the same shenanigans going on in the store’s West Coast outlets and fined the Texas food giant $800,000.
“Seems a bit suspicious when you get caught twice,” said Twitter user Alexandra Smith (@ashinsmith).
“Just fyi, customers aren’t ‘concerned’ about the pricing inaccuracies that overcharged us. We’re angry about them,” she said.
More than anything, Whole Foods shoppers said they expected better, especially since a lot of what the store sells comes at premium prices.
In a check of 80 items in one undercover operation last fall, the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs found every item mislabeled.
Whole Foods Market, with eight locations in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, was the worst offender in checks at dozens of other grocers.
“Our inspectors told me it was the worst case of overcharges that they’ve ever seen,” Agency Commissioner Julie Menin said in announcing a full-blown probe is underway.
The big bosses hasd as novel explanation for the bad labeling:
“The reason for many of these inadvertent errors is because Whole Foods Market packs many of its fresh products in our stores instead of in factories or distribution centers. This involves team members handling, weighing and labeling containers of products, such as with cut produce and fresh squeezed juices. This is who we are and how we deliver the freshest products to customers, but this also means there will be some unintentional human error.
Any mislabeling is unacceptable, they said in announcing a big fix. Here are the steps they say they will take:
- Improving our training regarding in-store packaging, weighing and labeling processes.
- Implementation a companywide third-party auditing process for all of our stores.
- A progress report to consumers in the next 45 days.
- A new refund policy: Consumers are being urged to ask cashiers to double check weights and calculations. If the finding is not in the customer’s favor, the store will refund the full price and give the shopper the item free.
Menin said the city is“gratified … Whole Foods is admitting the deficiencies in how they label their prepackaged foods.”
Consumer Affairs “will remain vigilant and hold Whole Foods and other supermarkets accountable for any misleading and deceptive practices,” she said.
John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on twitter@nyc_oz.