Whole Foods CEOs: We 'Unintentionally' Overcharged

Mackey, Robb say wrong weights sometimes work in customers' favor
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 10:17 AM CDT
Screenshot from apology video issued by Whole Foods co-CEOs John Mackey (left) and Walter Robb.   (YouTube/Whole Foods)

(Newser) – If you're a New York City resident and have found it odd that all the packages of pecan panko you've bought at Whole Foods seem to always be the exact same weight, you're not alone. And the reason why is something the grocery chain has been in trouble for before: overcharging customers based on overstated weights, reports the Consumerist. And today, the company's co-CEOs put out a video apology—filmed in the store's sliced-fruit section, CNN notes—admitting to the overcharging. "Straight up, we made some mistakes," Walter Robb says in the video. "We wanna own that and tell you what we're doing about it." Those "mistakes" were released in a report last week by NYC's Department of Consumer Affairs, which revealed that tests on 80 different types of prepackaged products at the stores showed all of them were marked with the wrong weight and, therefore, the wrong price; overcharges ranged from $0.80 for the panko to $14.84 for a container of coconut shrimp.

The probe suggests that packages are either inaccurately weighed or not ever weighed—the department's press release notes that different packages consistently weighing the same amount should serve as a warning sign that's happening. But John Mackey weighs in in the video, saying "a very, very small percentage" of foods such as freshly prepared sandwiches and juices were affected by the misweighing; Robb adds the errors were "unintentional because the mistakes are both in the customers' favor and sometimes not in the customers' favor." Either way, they're pledging to boost employee training and put an independent auditing system in place, with progress reports to start in a little over a month. And both execs say they'll personally read each complaint, suggestion, and vent sent to feedback@wholefoodsmarket.com. Finally, if customers discover an unfavorable error? The co-CEOs say the product will be free.

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