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Whole Foods fine: Popular supermarket chain fined $800K, overcharging customers

Whole Foods needs to pay a fine of a hefty $800,000 following an official state investigation that determined they have been overcharging their customers. The in-depth inquiry took place in select California sites, and the results are shocking; the supermarket chain has allegedly been charging numerous consumers for higher prices than their advertising costs say they do. Money MSN News reveals this Wednesday, June 25, 2014, that the massive fine will need to be paid in full and involves a variety of small but noticeable malpractices that have been adding up over the recent months.

Whole Foods facing fine for overcharging their customers
Whole Foods facing fine for overcharging their customers
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Known for their rather expensive but high quality products, the Whole Foods fine may come as a surprise to frequent shoppers of the popular supermarket chain. In certain stores along the nation’s West Coast state, inspectors found that people were being forced to pay higher prices on a number of items than initially advertised. Now, these California Whole Foods will need to fork over an $800,000 fine for the minor ongoing discrepancies.

According to the press release, most of the issues discovered during the year-long investigation were relatively small, but could certainly add up over time. Some instances inspectors cited included marking less weight on packaged meat labels than was actually being sold, a failure to deduct the additional weight of containers for some foods like plastic to-go boxes at the salad bar, and opting to sell deli kabobs by the individual piece instead of by the pound (which is a California state law). As a result, customers were being overcharged little by little.

For their part, News Max confirms this evening that Whole Foods has taken responsibility for the mistakes and agreed to pay the pricey $800,000 fine. The national food sellers are paying over $600,000 in civil penalties to various city attorneys, handing over an additional $100,000 towards a local consumer trust fund, and finally paying almost $70,000 in overall costs for the inconsistencies themselves. As part of the official deal, the corporate company has also consented to a five year legal injunction. The injunction will verify that Whole Foods participates in more efficient pricing policies, takes a greater interest in distribution and payment practices, and finally allows themselves to be subjected to state-officiated audits.

"We will continue to refine and implement additional processes to minimize such errors going forward," offered the company, which owns almost 75 stores in the California area. Whole Foods also wished to note that 98 percent (an overwhelming majority) of their pricing was correct, so a majority of customers need not fear of being overcharged at the popular healthy foods store.

Do you shop for food and other goods at this rising distributor? Are you surprised to hear about the Whole Foods fine, and the supermarket chain needing to pay a grand total of $800,000 in fees after being found guilty of overcharging some customers?