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MADISON, Wis. -- City officials here said five grocery stores here -- including Whole Foods and four stores owned by Roundy's Supermarkets -- have allegedly overcharged consumers by adding the weight of packaging to the price of deli and bread products.
According to local reports, it is the second time the city has fined Whole Foods for failing to deduct the weight of packaging material from the sales price of deli items. The chain paid $26,388 in fines and court costs for similar offenses in August 2002. Failure to deduct the weight of packaging material from the total weight of a packaged item is a violation of state and city laws.
Aside from the Whole Foods, other stores cited in the complaints filed this month in Madison Municipal Court include one Pick 'n Save and three Copps Food Centers, all owned by Roundy's.
Roundy's is charged with 150 violations, while Whole Foods is charged with 79 violations. Each count carries a fine of $100 to $1,000. Each food item is a separate count. The items invovled ranged from fruit salad and cranberry butter at Whole Foods, to Jarlsburg cheese, ham shanks and bulk coffee at the Roundy's stores.
A city official said the city made offers to both companies to settle the cases out of court, and it is waiting for replies to the offers.
Vivian King, spokeswoman for Roundy's, told a local paper the company is looking into the facts. "Overcharging customers in any way is unacceptable at Roundy's Supermarkets. If we investigate and determine that our scales were calibrated incorrectly, we will correct them. If human error is to blame, we will re-train our employees and make sure they have the tools that help prevent human error."