Austin, Texas – Whole Foods Market Inc. is being fined about $800,000 for charging excessive prices in California. Inspections of Whole Foods and Mrs. Gooch’s stores in the state revealed that the retailer was charging for the weight of salad bar containers, selling prepared foods by the item rather than the pound, and labeling items as heavier than their actual weight.
The fines stem from a consumer protection suit brought by the city attorney’s office of San Diego. Whole Foods must pay $210,000 each to the cities of San Diego, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, as well as $100,000 to a weights and measures protection fund and additional reimbursements to the state and county agencies who investigated its pricing tactics.
For the next five years, Whole Foods will also install pricing managers at the state and store levels in California and submit to random quarterly pricing audits of all 74 of its stores in California. Whole Foods said it cooperated with the investigation, had 98% pricing accuracy in California, and will improve its internal pricing procedures.