Whole Foods to pay $800,000 to settle claims alleging ‘pricing inaccuracies’ in California stores

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by John Chapman

Whole Foods Market is paying $800,000 in penalties after an investigation concluded the supermarket chain overcharged customers throughout California. A year-long investigation in California found that the grocery chain charged more than advertised for a wide range of products.

Whole Foods allegedly engaged in such practices as failing to deduct the weight of containers when calculating charges for self-serve foods from the store’s salad bar and hot bar, giving less weight than the amount stated on the label for packaged items sold by the pound, and selling certain items by the piece, instead of by the pound as required by law (such as kebabs and other prepared deli foods) “By adding the weight of containers and packaging, especially on higher-priced, per-pound items like seafood and meats and even prepared food, the extra charges can add up fast, and yet be hidden from consumers,” said Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky in a statement.

The grocery chain also agreed to a five-year court injunction. Pursuant to the injunction, Whole Foods is required to charge accurate prices. Whole Foods has also agreed to designate employees to check pricing accuracy at each of its California stores and to conduct random audits of the markets.

The investigation and consumer protection claims were pursued jointly by the city attorneys of Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Diego. Whole Foods operates 74 stores in California.

Consumer Protection from False and Misleading Advertising

State and federal laws protect consumers from false or misleading advertising. No business may make false, misleading, or deceptive claims about a product.

Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive, and advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Deception Policy Statement, an advertisement is deceptive if it contains a statement – or omits information – that is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.

If you have been a victim of false or misleading advertising, you should contact a qualified, experienced lawyer to discuss your situation.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for consumer rights

The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous plaintiffs in consumer fraud and consumer class action lawsuits. For example, we have represented individuals who allege they were misled by claims made by Samsung regarding the memory capacity of its Galaxy S4 phone and dozens of consumers who claim they were defrauded into investing in life settlements.

Our law firm has represented clients across the country in class action lawsuits against multimillion dollar companies, making sure that when consumers are hurt by corporate wrongdoing, the companies that do so are held accountable for their actions. Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest rating available from Martindale-Hubble, the top law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all board certified trial lawyers* and have all been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several consecutive years.**

If you have been a victim of false or misleading advertising, contact the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free consultation so we can help you determine the best way to protect your legal rights and interests. You can reach us by calling our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form located on this page.

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* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

** Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2014.