Whole Foods Agrees to Pay $500,000 Settlement

Whole Foods recently agreed to pay $500,000 to settle allegations that they have been routinely overcharging customers by mislabeling the weight of food sold. The suit, brought by the city of New York, originally sought $1.5 million in damages, but Whole Foods refused this amount outright. According to spokesman Michael Silverman, they eventually agreed to pay 1/3 of that in order to “put this issue behind us.”

Whole Foods’ CEOs John Mackey and Walter Robb claim that their weighing system is no different from any other super markets, and that the mislabeled foods represent a tiny fraction of overall sales. But the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs called it one of the “worst cases they have seen,” and some of the products sampled were overpriced by as much as $15.

The final price tag for the settlement might seem expensive, but the standard fine for falsely labeling a package is as much as $950 for the first violation and up to $1,700 for a subsequent violation. Given that their violations seem to number in the thousands, it appears Whole Foods got off lightly.

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New Year’s in Times Square Can Cost You $1,700

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All over the city, “open bar” is the name of the game on New Year’s Eve. It makes sense: on the biggest party night of the year, bars and restaurants want you to commit to staying there. And since many people will overestimate their alcohol tolerance and underestimate the lines (or forget that tips are not included), an open bar can feel like a great deal.

There are certainly some reasonably priced covers scattered around the city, but you would be hard pressed to find them near Times Square this year. There, major chains are getting in on the action by charging triple figure covers for an all inclusive night with dinner, drinks and a (usually obscured) view of the ball drop. Olive Garden’s New Year’s dinner buffet and bar will cost you $400 a head, Bubba Gump Shrimp is $799, and Ruby Tuesday goes up to $1699 for the exclusive “couple’s table.” Maybe people got word that the recession is over – Bubba Gump Shrimp has sold out at least, according to their website.

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