Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Class Action Against Whole Foods for Price Gouging Revived

A class action lawsuit against Whole Foods that was dismissed last year has been revived by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The main claim in the case is that Whole Foods overcharges shoppers who purchase pre-packaged weighed food items.

The district court dismissed plaintiff's case because it stated that he did not have sufficient proof that he suffered any injury or loss. However, the Second Circuit, after reviewing the matter, found that there was sufficient evidence to allow the case to move forward.

Whole Foods Price Exaggeration

The primary allegations of the class action claim that 14 different categories of weighed and prepackaged food items, including items like cheese and cupcakes, had price tags claiming the packages weighed more than they really did.

Surprisingly, Whole Foods admitted that similar allegations, levied by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs, were true. In the NY DCA matter, Whole Foods agreed to settle the claims. As part of the DCA investigation, it was discovered that at one location in 2015, approximately 89 percent of these prepackaged weighed items were significantly underweight. Some consumers ended up paying less than a dollar more, while others could have been charged nearly $15 more for items like prepared shrimp.

Whole Foods' History of Hiccups

This class action and the NY DCA action are not the first times Whole Foods has faced these allegations, though currently it may be the only active price gouging case against them. In 2015, Whole Foods had to pay nearly $500,000 to settle the NY DCA action against them.

In 2014, the company had to shell out nearly $800,000 as result of doing the same thing to California consumers. In addition to just exaggerating the weight of the items, it was found that the weight of the containers was routinely added.

Although it might just be a few cents or a dollar to each consumer, these sorts of ill-gotten gains are illegal and subject companies to penalties, fines, government action, and even consumer protection lawsuits.

For consumers that are concerned about being scammed, bringing your own scale when you go shopping, or just avoiding prepackaged weighed items, might be the only truly safe option.

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