John Mackey and Walter Robb, co-CEOs of Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) has apologized to customers, for mislabeling items and overcharging customers. The company is now offering free food in return, and the company added that the pricing mistakes were unintentional.
Recently, New York City investigators found that the company labeled about 80 items in eight different Whole Foods stores were incorrectly labeled. In the sting operation, the Department of Consumer Affairs discovered that the 80 items were labeled incorrectly, in turn showing a higher price. Mackey said that the prices were mostly related to fresh products like sandwiches, fresh juice or fresh cuts.
“We apologize to our customers for any discrepancies that may have occurred,” said the company in a blog post.
Robb stated that the mistakes were unintentional as some were even in the favor of customers. He added that mistakes happen, but are inadvertent in this case. The company announced that it will increase training across the country, including the city of New York. A 3rd party auditing system is set to implement for reporting the progress of the company within 45 days.
The company has assured that customers can take items for free, where mistakes are in their favor. Since last fall, pre-packaged foods at Whole Foods including baked goods, meat and dairy, were found to have incorrect weights. The overcharging were in the range of 80 cents for pecan panko to $14.84 for coconut shrimp. These allegations were rejected by the company last week.
Last year, the company had to pay $800,000 as a settlement to City Attorneys of LA, San Diego and Santa Monica, there was found to be widespread pricing violations throughout California. The violations included not deducting container weights and providing less weight than stated on labels. DCA commissioner Julie Menin stated that their inspectors found this as the worst case of mislabeling in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate.