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(NBC News)   For overcharging customers, Whole Foods to pay a whopping $800,000 fine, or three organic mangoes   (nbcnews.com) divider line 59
    More: Followup  
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4797 clicks; posted to Business » on 25 Jun 2014 at 11:53 AM (44 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-25 10:33:56 AM  
"Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.
 
2014-06-25 11:50:06 AM  
why is it not appropriate to charge for the weight of the container?  every other item you buy has the packaging included in the price....
 
2014-06-25 11:55:24 AM  

ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


How's it go?  "Never mistake for malice what can easily be explained by stupidity."
 
2014-06-25 11:56:07 AM  
More lile "Whole Paycheck". Nam sayin'?
 
2014-06-25 11:56:38 AM  

ginandbacon: That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


That's probably the case. I love our Whole Foods, but I find their stock people are not really diligent about clearing out food past its expiration date on the shelves and in the coolers. I have to remember to check EVERYTHING that spoils just to be sure.
 
2014-06-25 11:57:56 AM  
Why should I care if a bunch of hipster doofuses get overcharged on food?
 
2014-06-25 11:58:47 AM  
"They also said an internal investigation found their prices were accurate 98 percent of the time"

So, they'd be totally cool if I paid for my groceries 98% of the time?
 
2014-06-25 11:59:50 AM  
Uh, exactly what the hell good does that do anyone if the money isn't distributed to the people that were overcharged?
 
2014-06-25 11:59:53 AM  
FTA: Of the total settlement, $630,000 is allocated for civil penalties, $100,000 is designated to a statewide consumer protection trust fund and $68,394 is for investigative costs.
None of the money will be directly reimbursed to Whole Foods customers.

So, legal masturbating then?

"Sorry grandma, we still don't have that 13 cents you're owed back on the potato salad. That ought to teach you to shut the fark up!"
 
2014-06-25 12:00:20 PM  
"Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations..."

How the fark much can one of these even weight?

www.genpak.com
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-06-25 12:00:45 PM  
Watubi: So, they'd be totally cool if I paid for my groceries 98% of the time?

I can't speak for Whole Foods in particular, but cheaper chains offer self service checkout with the understanding that people will cheat.
 
2014-06-25 12:03:17 PM  

ginandbacon: That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


Possibly, but poor training should be punished as well.
 
2014-06-25 12:07:21 PM  

mistrmind: Why should I care if a bunch of hipster doofuses get overcharged on food?


The problem is that wives of cool guys like us shop there also.
 
2014-06-25 12:09:10 PM  
"None of the money will be directly reimbursed to Whole Foods customers."

Of course not, that would make too much sense.
 
2014-06-25 12:14:40 PM  

for good or for awesome: More lile "Whole Paycheck". Nam sayin'?


This; I frankly laugh at the people who go there.  They're paying an extra 20% because of the brand name.

/also: cue George Carlin's advertising monologue
 
2014-06-25 12:16:16 PM  
Pfft...probably aren't even free range organic mangos.
 
2014-06-25 12:16:43 PM  
That's three organic free-range mangoes, submitter.
 
2014-06-25 12:18:14 PM  

ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


I bet if they had been poorly trained in a way that resulted in WF losing money, it woulda been fixed right away.

And I can see a minor problem with your letting them off the hook for 'poor training'...all a company need do is 'poorly train' their employees and voila - they are immune from culpability! Whoopsie, we wil adjust our training methods!
 
2014-06-25 12:19:14 PM  
They better be gluten free!
 
2014-06-25 12:19:33 PM  

bigbadideasinaction: That's three organic free-range mangoes, submitter.


Are they grown by indigenous peoples though? If not, you are part of the problem!
 
2014-06-25 12:22:14 PM  

asmodeus224: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

I bet if they had been poorly trained in a way that resulted in WF losing money, it woulda been fixed right away.

And I can see a minor problem with your letting them off the hook for 'poor training'...all a company need do is 'poorly train' their employees and voila - they are immune from culpability! Whoopsie, we wil adjust our training methods!


^That

Deducting the tare weight of a deli item is something that is always built into the scales. While employees are trained as to why this happens, deducting the the tare weight is something that is almost never manually done. It's one of the most basic rules of deli work. It's exactly the reason why Weights and Measures exist. People were scammed constantly.
 
2014-06-25 12:23:30 PM  

ReapTheChaos: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations..."

How the fark much can one of these even weight?

[www.genpak.com image 300x269]


it has been a long while since i have been to whole foods, but i seriously doubt they use a lot of styrofoam packaging on anything.
 
2014-06-25 12:24:19 PM  

bigbadideasinaction: That's three organic free-range mangoes, submitter.


Mangos can't be free range and certified organic at the same time. Mangos naturally roam a wide range and you can never be sure they didn't stop for a hot dog along the way.
 
2014-06-25 12:28:45 PM  

ginandbacon: That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


Could be or likely someone higher up had to make the decision.  The pos system is suppose to have the weights in it, every major chain has this. someone left them out or they intentionally removed them. The scales should be calibrated, and checked, so if they are off enough to cause an issue it's more like they wanted to skim a little extra profit from the looks of things.
They settled because although the lawyers would cost a lot it's more likely shady shiat would come out if it went to trial, and that would cost more than $800 grand.
 
2014-06-25 12:28:59 PM  
Of the total settlement, $630,000 is allocated for civil penalties, $100,000 is designated to a statewide consumer protection trust fund and $68,394 is for investigative costs.
None of the money will be directly reimbursed to Whole Foods customers.


1. It wasn't about the customers
2. WTF is a consumer protection trust fund
3. $630k is a mighty arbitrary number the judge came up with to dump into state coffers
4. It's $798,394 not $800,000
 
2014-06-25 12:33:33 PM  
Meh. They can make that much up by charging for parking.
 
2014-06-25 12:34:04 PM  
This isn't simple negligence! Why does everybody forget the 7-On-Your-Side investigation done some years ago wherein three separate WF stores were found to be stating the weights of food items at exactly 25% MORE than they really were? A San Francisco woman found something she bought and then weighed at home to be 25% less massive than what WF said it was. So she checked other items ... same thing. Michael Finney of 7-On-Your-Side went to four stores: San Feancisco (2), Mill Valley, and Berkeley and found the same thing at ALL of the stores. When he confronted the store managers, nobody would talk at all and booted him out of each store. And when they went back the next day (to all four stores) ALL of the prices were corrected and exact.

WF has a nasty (largely hidden) history of screwing over customers. This is not negligence.
 
2014-06-25 12:34:24 PM  

ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.


The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.
 
2014-06-25 12:36:42 PM  

mistrmind: Why should I care if a bunch of hipster doofuses get overcharged on food?


I know, right? Stupid hipsters! Don't they realize that we, the ones talking about them nonstop, are the true kings around here? Why do they keep doing things that we don't like, when they could be talking about how great and smart we are?
 
2014-06-25 12:40:23 PM  

BBtB: mistrmind: Why should I care if a bunch of hipster doofuses get overcharged on food?

I know, right? Stupid hipsters! Don't they realize that we, the ones talking about them nonstop, are the true kings around here? Why do they keep doing things that we don't like, when they could be talking about how great and smart we are?


Yeah, what do I know.  I mean I must be incredibly dumb for not shopping at a store where I'd pay 3 times the price for a orange compared to the grocery store I go to.  What am I thinking?
 
2014-06-25 12:42:02 PM  

divgradcurl: ReapTheChaos: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations..."

How the fark much can one of these even weight?

[www.genpak.com image 300x269]

it has been a long while since i have been to whole foods, but i seriously doubt they use a lot of styrofoam packaging on anything.


Never been to one myself, but there's only so may container options for "self service food" out there, either styrofoam, plastic or maybe those Chinese take out type. None of them weigh any significant amount.
 
2014-06-25 12:42:27 PM  

That Guy Jeff: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.


LOLbertarians
 
2014-06-25 12:43:28 PM  

asmodeus224: bigbadideasinaction: That's three organic free-range mangoes, submitter.

Are they grown by indigenous peoples though? If not, you are part of the problem!


Fair trade or no trade man.
 
2014-06-25 12:43:38 PM  

Rwa2play: This; I frankly laugh at the people who go there. They're paying an extra 20% because of the brand name.


This may be true where you live, but it's not everywhere.

Where I live (DC area), Whole Foods is actually one of he cheapest stores around for staple foods, as long as you don't buy the hoighty-toighty brands and stick to the store brand product.  The only things that are priced higher than average are meats and fresh produce, which I'm perfectly willing to spend a little more on because the quality is far higher than most places.  And when I do want something special like a dry-aged steak or a whole skinned rabbit, they have them.  Plus, they have a better cheese selection than any other grocery store.
 
2014-06-25 12:49:10 PM  

for good or for awesome: More lile "Whole Paycheck". Nam sayin'?


This!

/if I want fresh stuff, I just go to my local farmers market. at least I know my $ is supporting the locals.
 
2014-06-25 12:54:24 PM  

Bane of Broone: That Guy Jeff: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.

LOLbertarians


Lolberals. Thinking you should use police and guns and jails and fines and courts and regulations to control "by what unit deli products are sold". What a utopian future, where we can all frolic free from the threat of "deli products by the piece". Thank goodness we were able to serve the Common Good in this manner.
 
2014-06-25 12:55:12 PM  

That Guy Jeff: The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.


Because fark the little guy that's why.

It's the utmost travesty that someone is forced to sell a pound of potato salad as an actual pound of potato salad, and not 12 oz of potato salad labeled as 1lb potato salad.
 
2014-06-25 12:58:26 PM  
mdeesnuts:

1. It wasn't about the customers
2. WTF is a consumer protection trust fund
3. $630k is a mighty arbitrary number the judge came up with to dump into state coffers
4. It's $798,394 not $800,000


I'm guessing the consumer protection trust fund helps pay for the consumer fraud investigations that don't ultimately lead to a lawsuit and/or pay out.
 
2014-06-25 01:03:24 PM  

That Guy Jeff: where we can all frolic free from the threat of "deli products by the piece".


lol. That scene from the sound of music went through my head when I read that. Made it even more funny.
 
2014-06-25 01:05:53 PM  

mistrmind: BBtB: mistrmind: Why should I care if a bunch of hipster doofuses get overcharged on food?

I know, right? Stupid hipsters! Don't they realize that we, the ones talking about them nonstop, are the true kings around here? Why do they keep doing things that we don't like, when they could be talking about how great and smart we are?

Yeah, what do I know.  I mean I must be incredibly dumb for not shopping at a store where I'd pay 3 times the price for a orange compared to the grocery store I go to.  What am I thinking?


3 times? Have you actually ever been in a Whole Foods and compared prices? The one I go to has ground beef and vegetables that are cheaper than my local Safeway.

Sorry anti-hipster hipsters, they're just a freaking grocery store with prices more or less like everybody else. Take your snobbery back to the beer threads.
 
2014-06-25 01:06:50 PM  

That Guy Jeff: Bane of Broone: That Guy Jeff: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.

LOLbertarians

Lolberals. Thinking you should use police and guns and jails and fines and courts and regulations to control "by what unit deli products are sold". What a utopian future, where we can all frolic free from the threat of "deli products by the piece". Thank goodness we were able to serve the Common Good in this manner.


So in the liberderpian world, theft is ok? Cuz misrepresenting the weight or amount and charging for the fictitious amount is a type of stealing.
 
2014-06-25 01:11:08 PM  

That Guy Jeff: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.


Hey, RonPAulderpian, you can ask for 20 slices of ham, or 3 pieces of chicken cutlet - they will cut you off 20 slices or 3 pieces, you will get charged according to weight and price per lb, though.

This is not the government tyranny you are looking for...
 
2014-06-25 01:18:25 PM  

big pig peaches: bigbadideasinaction: That's three organic free-range mangoes, submitter.

Mangos can't be free range and certified organic at the same time. Mangos naturally roam a wide range and you can never be sure they didn't stop for a hot dog along the way.


I have that trouble with my kiwis. I tried going to every gas station in a five-block area but someone still keeps selling them hot dogs. I find the wrappers in their nests.

media4.teenormous.com
 
2014-06-25 01:42:56 PM  
They overcharge for everything.
 
2014-06-25 02:14:10 PM  

Rwa2play: for good or for awesome: More lile "Whole Paycheck". Nam sayin'?

This; I frankly laugh at the people who go there.  They're paying an extra 20% because of the brand name.

/also: cue George Carlin's advertising monologue


Dude, I think they have the best pizza I've ever tasted. Also, I'm a total sucker for organic soap. Yeah yeah, I'll turn my man card in tomorrow.
 
2014-06-25 02:32:56 PM  

TerminalEchoes: Rwa2play: for good or for awesome: More lile "Whole Paycheck". Nam sayin'?

This; I frankly laugh at the people who go there.  They're paying an extra 20% because of the brand name.

/also: cue George Carlin's advertising monologue

Dude, I think they have the best pizza I've ever tasted. Also, I'm a total sucker for organic soap. Yeah yeah, I'll turn my man card in tomorrow.


Oh not that:  You just forked over an extra 20% of your money over a marketing term.  That's not good for you.
 
2014-06-25 02:52:15 PM  
I worked as a Store Systems Integrator (in charge of both IT and auditing at the store level) at FreshFields/WholeFoods from '99 to '04 and can safely say that the problems mentioned in this article happen everywhere, all the time. Here are a few things that could have burned WFM in this instance:

a) They actually got audited by W&M. Most states only have a handful of auditors and most of them focus mainly on gas stations and very rarely audit grocery stores, unless there are a rash of complaints. In the years that I worked for WFM my store was never audited.

b) They didn't reweigh items to account for moisture loss. If this was an issue, it was probably with cheeses, which are cut and wrapped in-store. Cheeses wrapped in plastic will still lose moisture over time, which results in weight discrepancies that are in the store's favor (customer pays more for less) and thus are a violation. Employees are trained to reweigh/label products like this every few days, but nobody ever does.

c) Their scales were not calibrated.Scales need to be checked daily with 5 lb weights to make sure they're reading correctly. When I did my first calibration check of the scales at my store, I found one in the produce room (where all those pre-sliced fruit bowls are made) that was missing a foot and had weights in one quadrant off by almost 10%. In this case it caused the items to be labeled below their actual weight, costing the store quite a lot of money.

d) Tares were inaccurate or not entered.A tare is an adjustment made to account for the cost of packaging, as packaging can't be included in the weight of a product when calculating the cost. If you don't enter a tare for packaged products weighed in-store, you're essentially over-charging the customer.

e) They had discrepancies in tag vs. scan prices.Simply put, the tag on the shelf must match the price at the register. Stores are given some leeway in this department--one out of 100 tags can be wrong, for example--but it's still a major issue. In some states (such as Pennsylvania), if the price on the shelf tag or sign is lower than the price scanned at the register, the customer gets the item for free and stores must post signage to the fact. The bulk of my work day was spent going through the store, item by item, with a hand scanner and checking the tags. Discrepancies occur a couple different ways. Either old tags/signage is left up after a sale ends; tags are placed over top of old tags and the moved around by clueless employees; or tags from the daily download of adjustments are not placed on the shelf. That last one is the most common problem. Whenever a price is changed a single tag is generated reflecting the change. If the item is stocked in more than one location in the store, but you're unaware of those other locations, you'll end up with errors. Basically, the person posting the tags has to know every single item the store sells and every location within the store that the item is sold. That's a tall order, hence the scan errors.

f) The wrong pricing structure was used.Simply put, you sell something by the item which must be sold by weight. This is primarily an issue when it's an employee that packages an item and not a customer (as they would in the produce or bulk departments, for example). Essentially, there will be discrepancies in size and weight between the items, so one customer may end up paying $2.99 for an item that weights 1 lb, while another may pay $2.99 for an item that weights 0.75 lbs (Prepared Foods kabobs, in the article). One customer got a much better value than the other.

Nothing that WFM did in California was malicious--they weren't trying to cheat anyone (more than they already do)--but lack of training and poor managerial oversight can obviously have some big costs.
 
2014-06-25 03:07:04 PM  

squidgod2000: c) Their scales were not calibrated.Scales need to be checked daily with 5 lb weights to make sure they're reading correctly. When I did my first calibration check of the scales at my store, I found one in the produce room (where all those pre-sliced fruit bowls are made) that was missing a foot and had weights in one quadrant off by almost 10%. In this case it caused the items to be labeled below their actual weight, costing the store quite a lot of money.



What is the precision of checkout scales?  .1 lb? .01 lb?

I recall buying a item at a WFM and asked them to reweigh the item at checkout and its weight changed by like .2lb or .02lb.

And because the item was like $15/lb it dramatically lowered the price.
 
2014-06-25 03:20:41 PM  

nickerj1: squidgod2000: c) Their scales were not calibrated.Scales need to be checked daily with 5 lb weights to make sure they're reading correctly. When I did my first calibration check of the scales at my store, I found one in the produce room (where all those pre-sliced fruit bowls are made) that was missing a foot and had weights in one quadrant off by almost 10%. In this case it caused the items to be labeled below their actual weight, costing the store quite a lot of money.


What is the precision of checkout scales?  .1 lb? .01 lb?


.01
 
2014-06-25 03:35:09 PM  

That Guy Jeff: ginandbacon: "Violations identified by the inspectors included failing to deduct the weight of containers when charging for food at self-service food stations and giving less product than the amount stated on the label.
Inspectors also found stores breaking the law by selling certain items, like prepared deli foods, by the piece instead of the pound."

That all sounds like poor training, not malfeasance.

The third one sounds like shiatty government regulations to me. Who the fark cares if they sell it by the piece instead of the pound? What kind of asshole decided that the full force of government should be used to ensure that deli foods are only sold by the pound instead of by the piece? Whoever came up with that law should be drawn and quartered and sold by the piece.

The first one is a big "meh". The second one is the only legitimate concern I see there.


Not sure if serious or just uninformed. In case you are uninformed:

If a store is allowed to sell deli products by the slice instead of by the pound, it means that the store could cheat you by slicing the meat and cheese a fraction thinner each time, but still charge the same amount per slice. The next thing you know, you have to buy twice as many slices to get the same amount of cheese as before. As a result, it costs you twice as much for the same amount of cheese, even though they technically never raised their prices.

We see it all the time with pre-packaged items in grocery stores now, and it boggles my mind why there aren't more crack-downs happening. For example, did you know that most items that used to be sold in 1-lb containers are now 15-oz and 14-oz containers (but still look and are priced the same as when they were 16-oz containers)? Heck, even things like ice cream are no longer sold by the pint or half-gallon. It is always 10%-15% less than a regular half-gallon, but you still pay the full price as if it were a half-gallon.

It sounds like only a small difference when you look at it one container at a time, but it adds up to consumers being cheated out of millions of pounds of product annually.
 
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