New York City officials are investigating Whole Foods for allegedly overcharging customers, The Daily News reports.
In a sting operation during the fall, inspectors weighed 80 items from eight Whole Foods stores across the city and found inaccurate labelling on every item, a spokeswoman for New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs told the Daily News.
The investigation found many of those labels overcharged customers by having weights listed that did not match the actual weight of the product.
“Our inspectors told me it was the worst case of overcharges that they have ever seen,” Julie Menin, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, told the Daily News.
In the last five years, New York City’s Whole Foods stores have been fined roughly $US58,000 for more than 800 violations during 107 separate inspections, according to a Daily News analysis of data obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.
We reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs to confirm the findings and are waiting to hear back.
Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra told Business Insider that the company has “never intentionally used deceptive practices to incorrectly charge customers.”
“Due to the ongoing nature of this matter, we have no further comment other than to say we disagree with the findings and we’re vigorously defending ourselves against allegations to the contrary,” Sinatra said.
As a matter of company policy, customers can get refunds for any items that have been incorrectly weighed or priced, he said.
The findings are a blow to Whole Foods at a time when the chain is trying to shed its “whole paycheck” image.
The company has been cutting prices to better compete with retailers like Wal-Mart and Kroger that are expanding their organic food selection.
But not all the Whole Foods mislabeling was bad for customers.
In its own investigation, the Daily News found some items that were actually underpriced.
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