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Whole Foods' Scales and Price Gouging

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  • Jacey Aug 3, 2009 01:46 PM
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I was in my local Whole Foods today and was in line to buy a few items. The cashier weighed my items and I thought it seemed awfully heavy for the amount I had. I told her I thought her scale might be off and to try another scale. I was right, her scale was very off! My .07 lbs of almonds (only needed a few for cooking) was coming out at .30 lbs. That is a huge differences, especially since a lot of the produce and weighed item are not cheap. She said would I like to pay for the .30lbs or the correct .07lbs. What do you think, lady! I want to be charged for correct amount, regardless if it's cheaper or not. This cashier seemed indifferent that her scale was not working correctly. I can only imagine how much it has overcharged people. The cashier seemed like she wasn't going to tell her manager, so I went to the customer service area and they too didn't seem that concern. All they said was "we'll look into it," and then the person left to go on break without speaking to anyone. This is just another problem at the P St Whole Foods in DC. This place is a circus, and don't follow WF standards (look at my past posts about them using wrong food labels on their salad/hot food bars).

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  1. A question. Why not report them to the State or DC department of weights and measures. They take these complaints quite seriously.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder

      2nd that. They may need a wake up call.

    2. I highly doubt that they're intentionally trying to gouge you on prices; I've seen scales be inaccurate in the other direction too. Still, talk to a *manager* instead of the person behind the customer service desk the next time it happens. A call to the Department of Weights and Measures would certainly be in order too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        The "managers" at Whole Foods don't care.

        Call Weights and Measures!

        1. re: mlgb

          I worked in the scanning department at a grocery store, and the Dept of Weights and Measures is no joke. The entire store went into panic mode whenever they showed up. Definitely call weights and measures!

      2. I haven't been to WFs in a while. I think the last time I was there, I was charged some outrageous amount (3X or 4X or more) for a tomato than I would anywhere else. It sure tasted a lot better, but on my budget, I didn't think it was worth it.

        I couldn't even purchase a can of beans. They were charging $4. For one can. I almost screamed. I was able to control myself however.

        WFs is for the super rich, I am afraid. Just slap an organic label on non organic produce and charge me 20% extra so I can feel better, thank you.

        5 Replies
        1. re: NewDude

          That's why I call the place "Whole Paycheck"! On the rare times I go there, the only people shopping there are "Real Housewives of Winter Park (Florida)" and trustafarian hipsters and neo-hippies.

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            I generally agree, however our local Publix carries Bison sirloin for 18.99/lb and it generally has connective tissue running through it. At Whole Pacheck, they had Strip & Ribete bison for 16.99/lb. Whoda thunkit that whole paychec would hsve a superior product for less than Publix.

            1. re: beteez

              I generally agree, however our local Publix carries Bison sirloin for 18.99/lb and it generally has connective tissue running through it.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Am I to believe it's your contention Publix specifically requires their Bison Meat Purveyor to provide meat with the connective tissue you mention. Don't you think you could have possibly just purchased a bad steak for that instance?

              1. re: fourunder

                Approximately 10 out of 20 will have connective tissue it is not an issolated occurrance and has happened over a wide range of time.

                1. re: beteez

                  Are we talking about gristle similar to what separates the meat on a Top Blade/Flat Iron or Hanger Steak?.....or something different?

        2. Back in the day, when I actually used to shop there, they would advertise their running specials on staples, such as bread, and a bunch of other things. The prices were in fact competitive and the difference in quality was epic.

          But, if you stop by, and try to grab something at random, forget it. Chances are, you'll want to run once you see the price.

          But yeah, I'm sure prices are competitive at least on some items. For me, the real comparison is between TJ's and WFs. Normal chains are just miserable. Costco's ok too but I got corrupted by their endless free samples and 'generous' return policy.

          10 Replies
          1. re: NewDude

            The WF near me is new (about a year old), and directly across the street from the standard megamarket. On items that both stores carry, WF's prices are competitive, and are in many cases lower (on our local milk, for example). On items that only WF carries, their prices tend to be through the roof.

            1. re: dagwood

              Yeah, if I recall correctly, their flier and ad on their low priced 'specials' was for maybe 10-15 items. They probably stock a few thousand items so....

              I'll be back after I win that lottery. ;-)

              1. re: dagwood

                I noticed that once TJ's started to open stores around Detroit, WF prices came down on directly competitive products. And I mean DIRECTLY. TJ might have one type of Natures Path cereal whereas WF has 4 or 5. WF price-matches the ONE kind that TJ's carries, while the others are $3 more per box.

                That said, there are things I get at WF that TJ's doesn't have or that WF is actually cheaper. Tortillas are cheaper at WF. WF has a fantastic raw milk Parmesan--I always buy the tiniest chunk they have. And their sales are decent.

                1. re: coney with everything

                  I agree. I picked up a few pounds of ground Bison on sale last week at WF (Rochester) for a great price. That parm is killer and if I need parm I will drive across town for that one item. They have got a lot more reasonable since they moved next to TJ's but you really have to watch the produce prices. One of the best places in town for tamarind.
                  The seafood counter is another story. That stinks so bad some times the smell hits you when you walk in the door.

                  1. re: Fritter

                    Talking about seafood - and prices - I once asked at the WF counter for a small piece of marinated salmon (sold by weight). The server put a piece in the bag, then added several huge ladles of the marinade so that the fish was literally swimming. I was first so shocked at the final price that I returned it to customer service explaining it was more than I had expected to pay. I am sorry in hindsight as I am sure they would have had to toss the fish, but it was way over my dinner budget. I've never had the courage to go back to the fish counter at WF again..

                    1. re: gemsquash

                      Gemsquash, two weekends ago WF had a sale on wild caught shrimp, $6.99 a pound. I asked the guy for a pound, and he pointed to a display of mesh bags of shrimp and said, is that OK--those bags are about a pound. I said "sure". He weighed it and it was over 2 pounds. When he handed it to me I said, "I'm sorry, this is more than I need for two people" and asked for a POUND, which he packaged up more or less cheerfully.

                      I definitely keep my eye on these guys--they, like in most stores, are trained to upsell. Don't let them intimidate you! I used to be timid about speaking up, but not so much any more.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        Thanks coney. I could understand some marinade being thrown in, but the amount added probably doubled the cost of what I had estimated, based on the price per pound, so I was totally caught by surprise.

                        I wasn't sure if I could ask for the marinade - not the fish - to be reduced! And the server didn't look very friendly at all...

                        1. re: gemsquash

                          You're well within your bounds to tell the guy that you want the marinade poured out. You're paying the same price for the salmon and the cheap marinade.

                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                            and the marinade by volume weighs more than the salmon!

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              and the marinade by volume weighs more than the salmon!
                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                              This type of practice in selling prepared foods is very common, the inclusion of marinades or sauce to increase weight, while reducing food costs, i.e., protein vs. marinade costs.

                              I have a friend who owns a national brand condiment company, who branched out and used his products on poultry and meats. He was fortunate enough to score an agreement with Costco Wholesale Club and to provide Baby Back Ribs with his Barbecue Sauce, prepackaged in vacuum sealed bags in the refrigerated section of the stores. Initially, he offered a 12 rib rack with sauce, but was told they had to change the product to include 20% sauce an 80% ribs. In order to satisfy the request, the ribs had to be dropped down to an 9 rib rack to make the price point for intended sale. He was told from surveys on past products that were similar.....the Costco customer prefers more sauce in it products.......believe it or not.

            2. I'm done with Whole Paycheck.
              no arugula for ME