The implications of the Whole Foods pricing saga is far reaching. It was noticed recently that weights, prices, and some other assorted information on certain products sold in-store were misrepresented on the packaging. While that might not seem like a huge deal to everyone, it is something worth noticing to a vast majority of people. The price discrepancies ranged from a few cents to several dollars, depending on what the product was being misrepresented. However, there’s something significant to be said about any product being misrepresented in a store that prides itself on being different than the rest of the competition.
Now, Walter Robb, who is the co-CEO of Whole Foods, has spoken out about the issue. He said in part, “Straight up, we made some mistakes. We want to own that and tell you what we’re doing about it.” Perhaps not so interestingly though, Whole Foods didn’t issue an apology, or change their policy on marking the prices or weights of various products – until they were caught in an investigation. Perhaps more interestingly though, this is something that is a sadder reflection of how business is conducted here in the U.S., rather than being a crowning example of a business learning from its mistakes.
The problem with a lot of businesses here in the U.S. is that they’re given permission to operate under the fallacy that they aren’t breaking the rules until they are caught. Whole Foods was in the wrong here, and they are undoubtedly not the only company to be operating in this way. In this instance, an investigation led to the findings. How often are things like this really investigated though, and how often are they really found?
The simple truth is that this is a great example of needing more self-awareness. We should forget about expecting federal agencies and organizations telling us when something is being done incorrectly at a business we frequent. We should be reminding ourselves that there is something significant to be said for the amount of information that we have at our disposal, and the tools we have at our disposal to ensure that business is being done correctly at all times.
Should we weigh every product we buy to ensure that the scales are weighing things accurately and that the grocery store is not ripping us off? No, of course not. However, we should be looking for the obviously incorrect things out there. Whether that is the weight or price of a good, or it’s simply something that we’re told. There should be a certain level of self-education associated with every decision we make, and every dollar we spend.