Furious Whole Foods customers threaten to boycott the chain amid allegations that it overcharged for food
Whole Foods is facing a massive backlash online following reports that the chain is under investigation for allegedly overcharging customers.
People are lashing out at the company on its Facebook page, claiming they will no longer shop there due to the accusations that stores mislabeled packaged foods and sold them for more than they were worth.
Whole Foods has denied the allegations.
"Your overcharging practices are deplorable!" one customer wrote on the company's page. "I no longer shop at Whole Foods. Far better, more honest, less expensive choices out there! Perhaps grab a clue from Trader Joes."
Another wrote, "The mantra that a visit to Whole Foods means a loss of your whole paycheck is true. Disappointed in you. I'll shop elsewhere now."
Those are just two examples out of hundreds of negative comments on the page.
People are also attacking the chain online for its "Responsibly Grown," program, which rates farmers' goods on a scale of good to best.
Critics claim the program unfairly favors conventionally-grown produce over organic foods.
"Shame on you and your deceptive 'Responsibly Grown' rating system," one person wrote on the company's Facebook page. In response, Whole Foods said the rating system is "not as a replacement for the organic seal and the standards it represents."
The company addressed the growing firestorm in a post to its page Thursday afternoon.
"As always, we appreciate the lively dialogue and feedback of our customers," the company wrote. "That said, we ask that you are always respectful of one another, refrain from defamatory language and spam to the page, and follow our community guidelines in general."
The comment seemed to further enrage some critics.
"You don't want your page 'spammed?' You don't want hordes of angry shoppers? Then don't rip them off. You love taking our money but you hate the whole pesky accountability thing. Got it," wrote one user.
Whole Foods has denied the allegations that it knowingly overcharged customers.
The charges against the company were made by the New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs, which conducted an investigation last fall and found that dozens of Whole Foods' labels overcharged customers by having weights listed that did not match the actual weight of the product.
For example, inspectors weighed eight packages of chicken tenders, which were priced at $9.99 per pound. Consumers who purchased these packages would have been overcharged by about $4.13 on average, according to a DCA release. One package was overpriced by $4.85.
Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra told Business Insider the company had "never intentionally used deceptive practices to incorrectly charge customers."
"Due to the ongoing nature of this matter, we have no further comment other than to say we disagree with the findings and we're vigorously defending ourselves against allegations to the contrary," Sinatra said.
As a matter of company policy, customers can get refunds for any items that have been incorrectly weighed or priced, he said.
The findings are a blow to Whole Foods at a time in which the chain is trying to shed its "whole paycheck" image.
The company has been cutting prices to better compete with retailers such as Wal-Mart and Kroger that are expanding their selection of organic food.
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