If you think Whole Foods is too expensive, the company’s executives agree. In an admission rarely seen in corporate America, Whole Foods’ co-CEOs have apologized for overcharging customers. But they claim the high prices were the result of “unintentional human errors.”
“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,” Whole Foods said in a statement, accompanied by a two-minute video apology (see below) by co-CEOs John Mackey and Walter Robb.
The apology came after news surfaced last week that New York City officials are investigating Whole Foods amid accusations that the grocery chain overcharges customers. In a sweep last fall, New York inspectors weighed 80 items from eight Whole Foods stores across the city and found inaccurate labeling on every item, according to New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs. The company denies accusations of intentionally overcharging customers.
The overcharging, the executives say, amount to “inadvertent errors” that result from Whole Foods’ packing of its fresh products in its 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,” a company statement says. “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.”
From the apology video: “Straight up, we made some mistakes and we want to own that,” Robb said. “It’s understandable sometimes that mistakes are made. They are inadvertent. They do happen because its a hands-on approach to bringing you fresh food.”
Here are the steps the company says it is taking to remedy the situation:
- “We are improving our training regarding in-store packaging, weighing and labeling processes.
- “We have implemented a companywide third-party auditing process for all of our stores.
- “We will provide an update in the next 45 days so that customers can follow our progress.”
And here is what Whole Foods says about its refund policy:
“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.”