In its earnings call yesterday, Whole Foods executives said the widely reported price overcharging scandal hit the business hard, slowing sales growth sharply. The revelation came in the wake of a New York Department of Consumer Affairs investigation finding that the high-end grocery chain overcharged for pre-packaged foods like nuts, berries and vegetables. The company’s co-CEOs even issued an apology on YouTube.
But during Wednesday’s earnings call, a Whole Foods co-CEO said that the business — not the overcharged customer — is actually the victim here. Business Insider reports this juicy quote from co-CEO John Mackey:
“It’s just something that went viral in the media and it has hurt our trust and we do feel like we’re victims.”
That’s a far cry from the tone of the apology video, where the company promised to increase its training, implement a third-party auditing system, and offer products for free if they can find weighing mistakes.
He went on to say that Whole Foods’ track record on overcharging is about the same as other grocery stores, and that he doesn’t understand “why the media went so wild with this.”
Really? The store was overcharging more than $4 for a package of chicken — how can that be a rounding error? Plus, how does this guy not understand that customers think Whole Foods is too expensive? They call it Whole Paycheck for crying out loud.
As the appetite for organic, healthier food choices continues to increase, Whole Foods is facing pressure from co-ops, farmer’s markets as well as traditional grocery chains that are stepping up their organic options.
To combat the onslaught (and the Whole Paycheck stereotype) Whole Foods announced that it’s planning 365 by Whole Foods Market, a new chain of smaller, less expensive stores. No word yet, on whether it has plans for a Philly location.