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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Addressing Weight and Pricing: A Message to Our Customers

A Message to Whole Foods Market Customers

As has been reported in the media, our New York City stores were audited by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) for weights-and-measures errors, such as those that cause improper price labeling on some of the products that are produced, packaged and labeled in our stores.

We want to provide our customers with the following information:

Unintentional errors

Any errors were unintentional, and any claim that we are “systematically overcharging” customers is completely inaccurate. The New York DCA found errors that were not in favor of customers as well as errors that were benefitting customers. Even errors in customers’ favor are considered a violation.

Hands-on approach

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 errors.

Small percentage of errors

Our goal is always 100% accuracy. While some of our audits reflect 100% accuracy rates, in others, our scores have reflected errors in the weighing and price labeling of our products in a small percentage of instances.

Types of errors

Errors can include mislabeled content weights (both higher and lower), which could be a result of scales not being calibrated correctly, not deducting the proper amount for a container, or moisture loss in the product over time. Errors can also include pricing discrepancies such as a price change not being entered into the system or a sale sign that has not been taken down in time.

Steps we are taking

While inadvertent mistakes are inevitable, our goal is zero mistakes. We are improving our training regarding in-store packaging, weighing and labeling processes. Additionally, we have implemented a companywide third-party auditing process for all of our stores, and we will provide an update in the next 45 days so that customers can follow our progress.

Refund Policy

We apologize to our customers for any discrepancies that may have occurred. If customers think an item is priced incorrectly, we encourage them to ask the cashier to double check. If it is, and not in the customer’s favor, we will refund the full price and give you the item free. Our goal is 100 percent price accuracy.

Our number one priority is to ensure that our customers have a great experience every time they shop at Whole Foods Market. Falling short of a great experience is not acceptable to us, and we are committed to doing better.

We thank you for the trust that you have put in Whole Foods Market, and we will do everything we can to continue to earn that trust.

We would like to hear what you have to say and invite you to send your thoughts and questions to feedback@wholefoods.com

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.

275 comments

Comments

Don says …

We all know the mayor is a socialist and the unions are likely behind this fiasco. Don't let these goobers pressure you into an unfair settlement. New York needs Whole Foods-where are people going to go-Fairway?

Amie says …

I am a loyal Whole Foods shopper and enthusiast, and I am incredibly grateful for this post. The indicated human error is very understandable to me, and I think it's important that errors in the customers' favor, as well as the willingness to refund money for overcharging were also mentioned. One beautiful thing about Whole Foods I have personally experienced over the years is that when they do make a mistake, whether with pricing, special orders, or anything else, they consistently go out of their way to make things right. As imperfect as humans are, we can't expect anything created or managed by us to be perfect either. Did your phone drop a call today? Did your computer freeze? Did the bill you sent not arrive on time even though you sent it in early? This stuff happens, and we just need to accept it. Rather than focusing so much on the inevitable mistakes, let's focus on how the company accounts for and corrects them. Whole Foods is beyond incredible for so many things, including customer service, and I will most definitely continue to believe in them!

Rufina E Butler, Ph.D. says …

I understand some information has come to light from California with regard to over charging customers. As I am one to believe there are two sides to every story, I trust you will be able to shed some light on this information. I look forward to your response. Respectfully, Rufina E. Butler, Ph.D.

Jeff says …

Produce that has experienced moisture loss is not fresh and should not be sold. In my store and in the south region it is often put on sale to minimize loss. This is an unacceptable practice and results in our customers shopping elsewhere when they can't trust our quality.

Yvonne Hoy says …

Is this refund policy only in the U.S.? Square One in Mississauga does not give the item for free if it is incorrectly priced. However, they do give a refund.

Barbara O'Barr says …

I myself purchased a small container of olives at Whole Foods and was charged 30$ for it when it actually should have been 5$. When I noticed the error I returned for a refund. I asked the customer service rep how something like this could even happen and he said that the "clerk could have been leaning on the weight measure". Hmmmmm.....This never ever happens in Safeway or King Soopers. Why is that?????????????????????????

Jimbo Slice says …

Something is wrong with your Healthy Eating section. There isn't anything about animal fat and protein. You should look into that.

Regina says …

I am a loyal Deerfield, IL. Whole Foods shoppe. I actually go out of my way to visit your stores when I am in other cites. Mistakes happen, we're all human and respect your addressing of this issue. I'm taking this opportunity to ask that you take a look at the Deerfield, IL store and try to control in stock/pricing issues at this store. Often times, I will go to the WF in Northbrook and their produce/fish department is so well stocked and ours often isn't. I've made mention of this to the employees..but not much has changed.

Diane Cheatham says …

Whole Foods is great ... everyone makes errors ... New York inspectors should back off.

Ruth Anne says …

I thank you for taking the time to respond to this issue. I have been a loyal Whole Foods shopper for years and, when I lived in Brooklyn, used to buy and carry all of my groceries from Union Square to my home -- because although folks like to call you all Whole Paycheck-- I found the prices of the products that I purchase often a dollar or more cheaper at Whole Foods than the same or similiar products at my conventional market just a block away. You all save me money and provide me with the products that I want. I also have been the recipient of a free product after a product was mis-marked. As a move to Staten Island is possible, I only hope you will soon open a store there.

Becca says …

I believe you and support you.

Beverly S says …

Thanks for the video. I haven't been to Whole Foods in a while because of a broken arm and illness, but I assure you that I have never had a problem with the pricing. Like you guys said, mistakes are made. Keep up the good work and the good food. Beverly S.

Joanne Lintjer says …

Thank you for your communication - I watched the video and read your email. I appreciate the honesty and education of the issue and the appreciation conveyed to the customers. Very classy - thank you very much! Joanne

D Kitson says …

I have experience overcharging, mainly when sale prices are not entered into your computer. A few of your cashiers challenge me about the 10 cents off for bringing bags if I don't get them out

Sunny Moon says …

I go to whole foods markets almost 4 times per week. I had times when the price was wrong but when I bought the issues to the cashier she told me (we cannot give you free items) this was quite disrespectful behavior . But as we only have one whole foods in Oakville Ontario Canada I have no choice but to go there . I hope that the staff was more respectful..

Elaine says …

WFUSQ raised the bar for healthy, fresh food and store cleanliness in the neighborhood.

michelle mctucker says …

Please open a store in Redding California because I know people and my family would shop there. There is an old Raley's by my house close enough to walk to that closed and maybe you could use it. Thank you for your consideration.

Norman says …

i live 30 miles from my whole foods and I drive there every week for groceries. Most people know what they are buying and approximately how much it weighs and how much it costs. When it comes to fresh meats.. Any of it.. You will not find any better people to work with that will adhere to your wishes. Mistakes happen and I appreciate your efforts in making extra sure that you take care of us. This will not stop me from going. I like the way they take care of all of my requests.

Good Food Matters says …

I am a loyal customer and believe in your brand, however, I have been overcharged several times with no refund. For example, I purchased 1 piece of small chicken from the hot food section in Berkeley, CA yesterday and paid $10!

Martha Suero-Luna says …

Hello. I'm from NYC and I appreciate how much you are doing to fix this issue. I've been shopping at Whole Foods religiously for several years and I am pleased with the variety of products you carry but I have noticed a few times that my total is more than I expected. I really think that whole foods needs to re-train their employees extensively as I have come across one or two employees whom do not have the capacity to work there or deal with customers. Thank you so much for everything.

Linda Bo says …

Still the classiest & best store EVER!! Your the best and thank you for owning your mistakes! So refreshing!

David Clark says …

As a trusting customer, I always believed your stores were on the up and up and would never allow such discrepancies to occur. The errors sighted were not minor as was eluded to in the above statement. The information provided in the report will always taint my view of Whole Foods and the ethics they practice. I probably will shop their again but I will always be on guard. It will just never be the same.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@YVONNE - Yes, this will apply to our US stores only.

Laura says …

I'm glad that all of the overcharges afforded you a good PR team to help you explain it. Whole Foods is one of the most successful groceries stores of our time, charging more than others (when the tickets are right). I'm sure you guys perform internal audits regularly enough to have figured this out before the DCA discovered it and it reached the news.

Andrea Coomans says …

I love Whole Foods and appreciate this information. What saddens me is that not once during this video explanation was an apology given, just an explanation. I think an apology first would have been in order.

Marcie Hadley says …

While I am sure there are errors from time to time, my experience with Whole Foods has been to go above and beyond to make things right for the customer. This happens with the cashier catching the error. To me this speaks of a company who wishes to be known by some integrity.

andrea says …

Go Whole Foods go - good for you guys for taking positive steps in a positive direction (I can't believe that this even happened... :D )

Crystal C. says …

I have perfect understanding of how this could have happen. This happen to me twice this week. Once at Jewels, I was charged $6.00 for three chicken legs, At Walmart. I was charged $2.54 for a tomato. I made them both aware. At Jewels I received two free chicken legs and the price corrected. At Walmart the cashier re-weighed the item and I was charged correctly. Mistakes happen! but I do find when I use my purse instead of a bag I do not get the ten cents at Wholefoods even when I ask.

Amy Schulze says …

I stand behind Whole Foods- in no way was this intentional. As you said, mistakes happen. This is something that can be fixed; I have complete confidence that it will be. I love Whole Foods- you are an honest company with a true commitment to helping people around the world.

Crystal C. says …

I have perfect understanding of how this could have happen. This happen to me twice this week. Once at Jewels, I was charged $6.00 for three chicken legs, At Walmart. I was charged $2.54 for a tomato. I made them both aware. At Jewels I received two free chicken legs and the price corrected. At Walmart the cashier re-weighed the item and I was charged correctly. Mistakes happen! but I do find when I use my purse instead of a bag I do not get the ten cents at Wholefoods even when I ask.

Chuck Field says …

Just keep doing all of the good things that you do. Your stores are the best.

Marcia Peres says …

Thank you very much for your e-mail and your care. Funnily enough I noticed recently, similar problem at your shop in Piccadilly, London, UK. Pecorino cheese was priced more than £8.00 when it should be about £4.00. I addressed the issue to the employee, and she re-labelled the cheese with the correct price. To be fair she looked puzzled with such mistake. Best regards Marcia Peres

Jan says …

I am fortunate to have the West Vancouver, BC, CAN as my local Whole Foods store. Customer service and the staff in general continually exceed my expectations. They always make things right if there has been a mistake (which is rare). As a business owner myself I believe in making things right if we have made a mistake, and Whole Foods has come through on this issue just as I would have expected them to. I also know as a business owner that you can't control what other persons or entities may say or do to serve their own agenda. Love Whole Foods!

Amanda says …

This is unfortunate and likely a bit of a witch hunt. Have always been happy with WF quality and service. I worked at Safeway for 20 years and what I witnessed (improper tare weights, baking soda baths for off-poultry) was deplorable, but I was threatened by managers to keep my mouth shut. Wish I had the guts to be a whistleblower.

Marie says …

Everyone makes mistakes. We love Whole Foods and we are still going to be loyal customers. New York back off. You have bigger problems to fix than pickings on Whole Foods.

Terry Freeman says …

Great Job WFM!!!

C Marie says …

Overcharging so many items for so long a time is not a "mistake." I am disappointed in you and will no longer shop at your store.

Gina says …

I shop at Whole Foods regularly and I appreciate how you support local farmers. The quality of produce at Whole Foods is the best. I hope you are able to work out any problems you have, I support you and am a happy customer!

Rebecca James says …

Whole Foods has led the way in bringing to the forefront healthy eating! They have raised the bar for all other food markets and made us aware of organic goods. They may make mistakes from time to time but in my book they are totally forgiven and I will always be a customer.

Michelle S. Fielding says …

I appreciate receiving this message. As a regular customer of Whole Foods for several years, I truly appreciate the opportunity to buy fresh, organic and safe foods, that are better for our environment and for us. While mistakes happen, I have had nothing but good experiences with WF, for example during a holiday recently, I was trying to make a recipe I found off their website and thus was looking for a particular fish topping. My store did not have it, but the team member did help me look for it and when he realize they didn't have it, he recommended a suitable other, and ensured I did not have to pay for it. I thought this was extremely nice, and just one of several example I could give you for how well you employees take care of us customers. Thank you for giving me you side of the story.

Judy Ries says …

The reported errors will not deter my shopping at Whole Foods. It's an experience I will not give up, in part because I always find new and interesting, fresh products, and love that I can get meats that were grass fed, not caged, and not tortured while alive. I pass 4 other food stores to get to Cherry Hill, NJ Whole Foods, but the trip is worth it to me, and I will continue to shop there.

Meral kazan says …

I have been a Whole Foods customer for many many years, Recently our son been working for Whole Foods Cranbrook location in Ann Arbor MI. Knowing how hard these employees work. Our family shopped way before our son employed at Whole Foods. He has two degrees, psychology and marketing. We as a family feel some people are after the WF. What ever the reason maybe. We will not stop shopping from Whole Foods. There are so many great people working there.

Susan says …

I love Whole Foods and will continue to shop there. I have purchased organic produce at other grocers. The produce was not as fresh or as tasty as what I purchase at Whole Foods. I am assuming this problem of correct weight on items is something other stores have as well. Once when some of my items were not placed in my grocery bag, I realized the error when I arrived home. I called the store. They already had a list of the items, the time, date and price of items at the customer service area. This way I was able to get a refund for the full amount when I returned to the store. I will remain a loyal Whole Foods customer.

Jeremy cobb says …

I am generally very satisfied with Whole Foods. But, often the labeling is sloppy or erroneous. Pr!ices are missing! E.g. Kale is not a fruit. Peaches and nectarines are reversed. You get the idea!

Susan Rothman says …

Thank you for your direct transparent approach to the problem. Your Arden Way. Sacramento store reflects your approach to customer satisfaction. I enjoy being your customer.

Gary says …

Hello, Based on an increased number of pricing errors between she shelves and the programmed cash registers at my local Whole Foods Market, where I shop at least 3 times a week, and based on error by checkers, I now check my receipt carefully before I leave the store each time I shop there. If I find errors, I go to the front customer service location and request that I be charged the correct amount. Sometimes I am charged the correct amount after such errors and a few times (very few) I have been given the product at no charge. I will continue to shop at the local Whole Foods Market because I favor the food products sold there and I also find the Whole Foods employees very friendly and helpful.

Tom says …

I feel like the NYC needs WHOLE FOODS. However, make sure the store update the correct price of sale items as soon as possible. I once found out the cashier charged me the price before the sale for one item. Fortunately, the store staff are so great that they correct the error and give me an extra free item!

Mic says …

I have shopped the Santa Fe store every single solitary Saturday with my mom since the store opened. I have never once had any issue. When something has been charged incorrectly, I have never had a problem or question. If we want to try something prior to purchasing - WF has been more than accommodating which says a whole lot for their customer service. I truly wonder about motives in this particular story...mic

Kevin Williams says …

When I consider how many times I have returned something because I didn't like it or how many times they have just given me an item for free to sample, or how many times they have given me an item because it wouldn't scan properly, I can say that I am way ahead of the game. That is why I love shopping there.

MB says …

add some scales around the store so customers can confirm weights - post the packaging weights so that can be subtracted - Often stores don't subtract the packaging weight as a way of boosting profits

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