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One has to wonder how deep into Whole Foods corporate culture ripping off consumers goes:

Sticker shock has always been part of the shopping experience at the city’s Whole Paycheck luxury stores, but now it turns out some of these prices may be illegal. An investigation by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs has uncovered some shady price tags at our fleet of Whole Foods stores that show customers have been overcharged for their already pricey pre-packaged goods. “DCA tested packages of 80 different types of pre-packaged products and found all of the products had packages with mislabeled weights,” according to a DCA press release. And we were just starting to trust you, Whole Foods.

The investigation looked at products that are weighed and labeled and found a “systematic problem” whereby customers were routinely overcharged for things like nuts, snack foods, poultry and other grocery products. Eight packages of chicken tenders—priced at $9.99 per pound—were inaccurately priced and labeled to the tune of a $4.13 overcharge to the customer per package, a store profit of $33.04 for the set. DCA says one package was overpriced as much as $4.85. “Additionally, 89 percent of the packages tested did not meet the federal standard for the maximum amount that an individual package can deviate from the actual weight, which is set by the U.S. Department of Commerce.”

A current Whole Foods employee, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, says the issue is incompetence. He says the company was aware of the labeling issue but actually eliminated the job position responsible for checking price tags, sales signs and tare weights in a bid to save money.

This isn’t the first time the chain has been accused of and cited for overcharging customers. Last year, the company was fined nearly $800,000 in California for not deducting tare weight, selling less than the weight on products sold by the pound and other violations. Not to be outdone by our neighbors to the West, “our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate,” according to DCA Commissioner Julie Menin.

One might chalk this up to a bad employee or two at a distribution center, but given the extreme nature of the overcharging, the corporate indifference to it, and the California case, corporate culture seems to hold significant responsibility here.

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  • Honoré De Ballsack

    I can actually sort of buy the incompetence dodge here. My local (Park Slope) Whole Foods has–absolutely and by far–the slowest cashiers I’ve encountered in thirty-plus years of buying groceries several times a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover the rest of the staff is of similar caliber.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym

      But it isn’t just random that the staff are incompetent. The anonymous employee specifically states that management eliminated the guy who was supposed to double-check things to save money. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they had skimped on cashier training and equipment, as well–I’ve know it to happen–and then you are right back to the management culture of the organization.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        I think the anonymous employee was referring to what in Northern California is called the Data Technology Specialist-basically a WF employee who was a store level IT person. And who would (IIRC) also do random audits of items to make sure the price tags were correct. It wouldn’t surprise me if the position was eliminated recently. And TBH it was a pretty good job for WF.

    • ChrisS

      At Wegmans, you can see the cashier’s items per minute on the register. Unfortunately, you can’t see it before you choose a line. But we do note which ones have high IPM.

      • Murc

        I remember when they instituted that. We were super pissed off. Danny Wegman (who isn’t half the man his father or grandfather was, by the way) has been toying around with the idea of making that sort of information more visible for years.

      • Ann Outhouse

        If you shop regularly at the same store, you get to know who the best cashiers and baggers are anyway.

        • Warren Terra

          I really can’t imagine stressing out over time spent in line to that degree. The minutes I might save couldn’t possibly be worth it.

          • Ann Outhouse

            And also, it’s not always the cashier. Grocery stores let pretty much anyone shop there.

            Also, apparently there’s a law against making our your fucking check and getting your ID out while your order is being scanned.

            I don’t know how they would measure IPM fairly. What happens, for example, when the cashier is handed a big stack of coupons? Do those count as scanned items? What if the cashier has to wait for a price check? What if the customer is arguing about the price of something (“That’s not what the shelf tag said!”)?

            • Ahenobarbus

              It’s not a perfectly fair measurement, although large differences are probably meaningful. If you want to choose the quickest line, look at the customers in the line more than the cashier.

          • cpinva

            “I really can’t imagine stressing out over time spent in line to that degree. The minutes I might save couldn’t possibly be worth it.”

            oh sure, one or two minutes maybe. but if you add all those up, that may well be the amount of time it would have taken you to discover a cure for every type of cancer, or invent an engine capable of reaching Mars in time for the early bird special. so it could mean something.

        • steverinoCT

          My criteria is “Which cashiers will laugh at my jokes?” and “Which cashiers don’t roll their eyes when I get in line (while I can see them)?”

          • cpinva

            I gave up on this years ago, and just accepted the fact that I’m not very funny, and my looks don’t make up for it.

            • Brett

              You guys really try to socialize with the cashiers. I usually just want to pay as fast as possible and be on my way. I figure the cashiers are thinking the same thing.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                it’s funny. sometimes service people (for lack of a better term) really light up when you try relating to them- other times ‘meh’ is all you get. I guess they’re like everybody else

    • Randy

      My local (Park Slope) Whole Foods has–absolutely and by far–the slowest cashiers I’ve encountered in thirty-plus years of buying groceries several times a week.

      This could be a neighborhood thing. I lived in Park Slope decades ago, when it was first starting to gentrify. It was well known that the bank tellers there were the slowest in the five boroughs.

    • FridayNext

      But wouldn’t the incompetency “dodge” require at least a little variation in terms of over and under charging? We shouldn’t see exactly the same overcharges as undercharges, for sure, but it should be close if it’s incompetence and not on purpose. When all or most of the mistakes are in the allegedly incompetent person’s or company’s favor, it’s time to call bullshit and suspect some intentional cheating.

      • Warren Terra

        I’d suggest that an employee can get away with sloppiness, carelessness, error, and apathy in the company’s favor, but if they under priced something there’d be words said. So, yes, they might through one-sided neglect make errors only in one direction.

        • alex284

          In other words, you’re suggesting that Whole Foods has a policy of punishing underpricing but allowing employees some latitude when it comes to overpricing.

          If that’s the case, then it’s not a simple mistake. It’s a corporate policy to overcharge consumers.

          • Ahuitzotl

            It’s a corporate policy to overcharge consumers.

            Its Whole Foods, their whole raison d’etre is to overcharge consumers.

      • alex284

        Yes, you’re right. If it were simple incompetence, then the mislabeling would go both ways.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    My opinion, as a former Whole Foods cashier:
    1. I always thought it was difficult to memorize a shitload of produce codes and tares, and to be fast and efficient. We were evaluated in part based on how fast we could ring up items.
    2. Inconsistent policies from various levels of management on what to do in certain situations as a cashier.
    3. WF customers are by far and away more likely to bitch about being overcharged than other grocery store customers, I think.
    4. Related to number 1, pressure to keep lines moving, and not to do price checks. That’s assuming there’s someone available to be a runner to go back to the department in question and ask about the tag.
    5. Poor levels of communication between departments.
    6. Broken scales and so forth that just never got fixed.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym

      It has now not surprised me to learn that Whole Foods skimps on cashier equipment and support.

    • Murc

      Except this isn’t about cashiers messing up on a bag of produce, is it? It’s about stuff that rings in with a barcode (which is un-fuck-upable for the cashier) being straight up priced wrong.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        Its a problem if the cashiers are unable or unwilling to do price checks with the department. Like a customer will complain, but there’s no one around to help the cashier take the item back to the meat counter to get re-stickered, so the customer sucks it up and mumbles under their breath…
        Basically, its very common for a customer to notice something is wrong when the item is rung up by the cashier. What happens next…

    • Larrry

      Amanda, spoken like a true Whole Foods Markup mindwashed “team” player.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Ridiculously unfair comment on your part.

        • ResumeMan

          Not to mention incoherent. Amanda’s post is a list of bad management and excessive pressure. Doesn’t sound like she’s sticking up for the team to me.

        • CD

          +1

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        If you think I support WF in any way…LOL WTF OMG BBQ.

  • ChrisS

    This is a good reason why I don’t buy some of the prepackaged meals or ingredients. Wegman’s has similar convenience packages. I try to stay away from them. I can cut my own vegetables, thank you very much.

    I haven’t spot checked weights, but I think I’m going to start doing that.

  • MacK

    Holy [email protected], DC wholefoods!!!

    Oh wow – anyone who does not live in DC would not recognise how far they are in the composter.

    First you need to know about DC supermarkets. For years the only real in DC options were:

    A. Safeway
    B. Giant

    With the outside possibility that you could go to Eastern Market or the fish market at the harbour.

    I lived in northwest in the late 80s and early 90s then moved to Eastern Market. It was an eye opener to compare the “social Safeway” of Georgetown – where congresscritturs, diplomats, lawyers, and the rich and connected shopped and the Safeways where everyone else lived. And Giant, oh god! Precomposted vegetables if you were lucky. I saw grocery store redlining up close and personal. Giant still sucks – and Trader Joes is good for some stuff, but not others.

    Since then Eastern Market burned down, became a yuppy over priced farmers market once rebuilt, and the Social Safeway closed to rebuild over 3 years just as the Georgetown Wholefoods opened. It is where the connected in DC shop, if not there Foggy Bottom, upper Wisconsin, etc. they have been ripping off the DC plutocracy – and some of the not so rich but certainly powerful.

    Oh crap!

    • MacK

      Ouch, on rereading I see I misread DCA as DCRA – I should have wondered – far to competent for DCRA – not to mention their inspectors usually can be mollified with an envelope.

  • Murc

    Like everyone else who lives in Rochester, NY, I worked for a few years at Wegmans. Wegmans, for those who don’t know, is a regional 24-hour grocery chain that is based here and has stores in New York, MA, and some of the Mid-Atlantic states. It is better known than its tiny store footprint (only like eighty or ninety stores) would otherwise warrant because it continually ranks highly as a chain from both business and consumer standpoints.

    I digress. Point is, I did my time in the grocery store trenches, and this labeling shit? This is fucking kids stuff. This Inventory Control 101. Wegman’s had high-schoolersdoing things like tare code validations and spot-checks during my tenure there, which I know because I was one of them, and it was conducted swiftly, efficiently, and usually without error because Wegmans actually knew what the hell they were doing. Constructing a system to handle this sort of thing and inculcating employees in the proper usage is very easy; a single detail oriented person with any kind of work ethic at all can keep on top of it with proper support.

    This isn’t due to incompetence at the lower levels. Period. This is corporate not wanting to invest the very tiny amount of resources to avoid mis-pricing things.

    • TribalistMeathead

      If you know anyone from upstate NY or New England, you know about Wegman’s, trust me.

      • Murc

        New England? Really? There are, like… three stores in MA and that’s it, I think?

        That said we do love to talk about Wegman’s, and to compare it unfavorably to whatever your non-Wegman’s local equivalent is.

        I’m not sure why. It’s almost like having a sports team, except it is a grocery store.

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          Yeah, but two of those Wegmans are like the size of an Ikea or CarMax dealership, so it’s more like six or seven stores…

          • Murc

            Wegman’s doesn’t screw around on square footage, no. There are a few stores here in Rochester that approach the local Super Wal-Mart’s in terms of square footage, except Wal-Mart sells, well, everything, and Wegman’s just sells grocery store things.

            • Rob in CT

              I’ve been to one just outside of Rochester (Pittsford). It’s fucking gigantic.

              • Murc

                Not even the biggest one!

                It is, however, the fanciest. Pittsford is the most well-heeled of the Rochester bedroom communities. It’s a pleasant, charming town with a lot of character, but it is also the sort of town where the high school students roll up in $50k cars their parents bought them. If you’ve got money in the Greater Rochester Area, you probably live there.

                More to the point, a ton of Wegman’s execs and higher ups live nearby and shop there.

                So the Pittsford store always gets the best and newest and fanciest of everything.

                • Rob in CT

                  My best friend from college lives there. Prof at University of Rochester. It’s a nice place (with super high property taxes, I mean holy shit, they’re like almost double mine and CT is hardly a low-tax area). I’m always amazed at how his neighborhood feels. It’s like this leafy suburban feel but it’s also like 1 mile from ever store imaginable. If you’re out in his yard, you’d never know it’s all right there. Which is pretty awesome, really. And there’s the canal trail right there.

                  But then there’s the winter situation…

                • Murc

                  Hah, I know exactly where he lives based on that description, and yeah, that’s more or less the nicest place to live around here unless you feel like living down around one of the lakes and having an hourlong commute.

                  But then there’s the winter situation…

                  Ah, winter. The best seven months of the year!

                • Linnaeus

                  Is The Old Toad still in Rochester?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  The Old Toad is there and it’s awesome.

            • Ann Outhouse

              The last time I was in a Wegman’s, I don’t remember where, it had a sewing supplies section, including bolts of fabric.

        • There are, like… three stores in MA and that’s it, I think?

          Yes, and they all opened within the past year, and everybody who visited there announced it on Facebook. They’re all a little too far for me to get to, though.

          I don’t go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s as much as I should. Big Chain is just so close and is good enough for pretty much everything except produce, but for a lot of things WF really is not that expensive. They have locally grown strawberries for $8 or $9/lb, but the non-organic ones shipped from California are $3 or $4 like at Big Chain. I can see how the lure of the prepared foods could add up, and the dairy is probably slightly more expensive than even the fanciest organic stuff at Big Chain, and the steak I got there was to say the least pricy (but wasn’t available at Big Chain at all, and even if it was, would have been iffier altogether).

      • Ahenobarbus

        If you know anyone from upstate NY or New England, you know about Wegman’s, trust me.

        We Rochesterians are well aware of our reputation for not shutting up about Wegmans.

        • Ann Outhouse

          I grew up down the road in Newark. For years, Wegman’s was the only supermarket in the area.

          OT but funny: A local radio station down here in the Tampa Bay area had a morning drive jock who held a contest that the first person who called in and said “Rochester” the same way a Rochester, NY native would say it (the jock being the sole judge) would get free tickets to something. My sister was on her way to work, called in on the cell phone, and won the tickets.

          For non-western-upstaters, it’s the “o” that’s the vowel in question.

          On a related note, I was playing poker in Mississippi some years ago and said I had “bottom pair”. Half the table cracked up laughing. I didn’t get it until one of the good old boys tried imitating the “o” in “bottom”.

          • Ahenobarbus

            My name is Tom. I went to college in Massachusetts, and recall a ridiculous conversation:

            What’s you name?
            Tom
            Tahm? T-a-m?
            No, T-o-m, Tom.
            Oh, Tawm.

            • Ann Outhouse

              Yeah, my paternal grandparents lived in Marblehead, Mass and I’d go spend summers with them and get all sorts of shit from the neighborhood kids (with their strong East Mass accents) about how I talked.

          • Murc

            That’s actually called “The Rochester A.” It’s sort of like if the Chicago and Boston regional pronunciations had a weird cousin.

            • TribalistMeathead

              The Upstate NY and Chicago accents are actually part of the same dialect.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_Northern_American_English

              • Murc

                They are, but you can get significant variance even within the same dialect. The Rochester A is one of those.

                Speaking as a native, please believe me when I tell you that Rochester’s regional a/o sound (Think “Raachester” in terms of what it does to our pronunciation; see Ahenobarbus’ Tom/Tam example) is audibly distinct from Chicago or Cleveland.

                I mean, hell, you get variance even within our incredibly specific sub-sub-sub-dialect pronunciation quirk, which is in-use by I would have to say like 100,000 people, tops. (Not everyone from Rochester does it.) Some people it’s nearly inaudible, some people it almost drags them all the way to sounding like a Midwest version of them wanting to pahk their cah in Hahvahd Yahd.

                • Richard Gadsden

                  Americans!

                  our incredibly specific sub-sub-sub-dialect pronunciation quirk

                  Any hundred thousand people in England would have four distinct accents (well, unless they live in one of big cities where you might get a city-wide accent).

                  Brissle (Bristol. You try spotting an alveolar stop anywhere in the local pronunciation of the word. Or any stop at all after the voiced bilabial at the beginning) is about the smallest city that would have a central-city accent with that many speakers – obviously the suburbs each have their own accent.

              • Ann Outhouse

                Local variations are quite a bit different, however. The vowel shift is a lot stronger in northern Ohio, for example. You can hear it in episodes of The First 48 shot in Cleveland.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  The whole Northern Cities vowel-shift thing didn’t take off until my pronunciation had been formed, however.

        • TribalistMeathead

          Seriously, it’s like the old “How can you tell someone is a vegan?” joke.

    • Sure, it’s so easy, people should be able to check their own work, why pay someone to do it for them . . .

  • wengler

    I don’t see why these people just go to a Trader Joe’s. The appeal of ‘premium’ grocery stores is totally lost on me.

    • MacK

      Trader joes has crap vegetables and chicken and fish is not to great either. Most people in DC shop – if they have time at a combination of Trader Joes for some stuff, Safeway for other stuff and Wholefoods for produce, meat, fish.

      • nixnutz

        Yeah the range of things that Whole Foods is good for and that Trader Joe’s is good for don’t have a ton of overlap, IMO. I’m always surprised, with mom & pop health food stores too, by how many people buy normal staples at crazy inflated prices, but I guess if you can afford it it’s efficient.

        • Ann Outhouse

          I always thought of WF as a pretentious grocery store and TJ’s as a specialty foods store. I wouldn’t do my regular grocery shopping at either, but I liked a lot of the things I could get at TJ’s that either weren’t available elsewhere or were simply way better.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Because there are a shitload of things that WF sells and TJ’s doesn’t.

    • I normally shop in order of:

      1. Local Farmer’s Market (Columbus North Market)
      2. Trader Joe’s
      3. Chain grocery store
      4. Whole Foods (for things I just can’t find anywhere else)

      • tribble

        God, I miss North Market.

      • John Revolta

        Huh. That’s just about the same rotation as us. We also go to the local “natural grocers” so I guess I’d call them #1a.

    • nobadcats

      I can never find anything in a TJs and what I do find is too much pre-packaged crap.

  • LWA

    I would buy the incompetence argument if half the time, products were undercharged, i.e. if the error went in the consumer’s favor as much as the other way.

    Doesn’t seem that way though.

    • FridayNext

      That’s my thought exactly. When all the “mistakes” are so overwhelmingly in one direction it’s time to call bullshit.

      • tribble

        And having a $4 error on $9.99/lb chicken is not a tare error. That’s not failing to subtract the weight of the organic, free-range styrofoam tray and cling wrap.

        • Orphos

          and that only with a mummification-level amount of cling wrap…

          • Ann Outhouse

            What exactly is the volume of 8 oz of cling wrap? Anyone know?

            • Orphos

              oh good lord, just a warning – do _not_ try to Google this. Apparently cling wrap is used in some sort of scary weight loss nonsense.

            • Four Krustys

              Enough to cover $240 worth of pudding. Aww, yeah.

        • Rob in CT

          All of this.

          If you’re consistently off in a way the screws the customer, hard, that’s not a mistake.

        • sparks

          I think they weighed the chicken when it was still alive.

          • steverinoCT

            What’s a henway?

            • trollhattan

              They’re literal chick-fillas.

      • Ahenobarbus

        But it’s not true that all of the mistakes were in one direction. Follow the links.

        Mini roast beef sandwiches were all priced at $3.49 for 3 ounces, despite their varying weights, from 4.5 to 5.1 ounces. Similarly, breaded chicken breasts were all priced at $5.99 for 7 ounces, even though the actual weights ranged from 6 to 9.2 ounces.

        • Rob in CT

          Ah, well, ahem, err…

  • jmauro

    I’d bet money that if you went to any grocery story anywhere in the country you’d find the exact same issue with pre-packaged food.

    I doubt it’s a Whole Foods institutional issue per se.

    • Murc

      Well, I worked in a semi-major grocery chain, and while we fucked up a fair amount we usually had a handle on accurate pricing.

      Any Kroger’s or Meijer’s alums out there? Safeway, Piggly Wiggly? You guys want to represents?

      • alex284

        I used to regularly shop at safeway and they mispriced things all the time. Usually I couldn’t say anything as stuff was being rung up because I had to engage in some hand-to-hand combat with the bagger who wanted to put each item in a separate double plastic bag (I used public transport and a backpack, so things had to be bagged more efficiently), but I’d notice a few discrepancies looking at the receipt when I left the store each time. And they were never in my favor. These were usually on manufacturer-packaged items that were labeled $X but rang up as $X+Y.

        In America, the store robs you!

    • Larrry

      jmauro, big talk. Let’s see some green. You’d lose money on that. Ask DCA.

    • John Revolta

      I thought that too, at first…………….but presumably Consumer Affairs is checking all the other places as well. What, are they only ratting out Whole Foods?

    • nobadcats

      Nope. I just came off working in a fancy family owned deli/grocery. Every two months we had The City in to check all of our scales (produce, register, and most importantly, the deli where things were on-request sliced, packaged, pre-packed, etc.). If we didn’t tare or our scales were even the slightest bit off, we were cited for it. Which included a hefty fine.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      I dunno, as a Whole Foods alum myself…I always wondered if WF’s culture wasn’t a bit off compared to a normal grocery store. Like, things always seemed to work in ways that I wouldn’t have expected a grocery store to work as.

      • Well for one thing most large grocery chains are unionized and to say the least WF is not.

        • Amanda in the South Bay

          I remember the mandatory anti union meetings we had at the WF in Palo Alto. Sorta awkward (not just being pro union myself) but realizing there were probably lots and lots of very well educated Stanford/Palo Altians shopping upstairs who would be aghast at what we were being told.

          • sparks

            Lotta BART employees are gagging at this parenthetical comment.

    • dporpentine

      It is, in fact, a Whole Foods issue.

      DCA routinely checks all grocery stores in the city and they pointed to Whole Foods because it was “the worst case of overcharges” their inspectors had ever seen.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-foods-faces-city-probe-overcharges-article-1.2268695

      Also:

      An investigation in California, which began in 2012, also found pricing irregularities in the state’s Whole Foods stores. City Attorneys for Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and San Diego brought a civil consumer protection case on behalf of the people of the State of California. As a result of that case, Whole Foods agreed to pay close to $800,000 in penalties and initiate a stringent in-house pricing accuracy effort that included a statewide compliance coordinator, a designated employee at each location for pricing accuracy, and random audits.

      http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr062415.page

  • Larrry

    That’s cafeteria libertarian John Mackey’s 2-lb thumbs on the scales you’re noticing. His motto: Whatever is good for me; fuck thee.

  • creature

    I’ve got options here in northern Colorado- Whole Frauds is not on my ‘A’ list for anything. Sprouts, Vitamin Cottage and Lucky’s have got them beat, and the big ones- Safeway and King Sooper’s are overall pretty good, and cheap. My wife’s been to Trader Joe’s, she says it’s not worth the effort, and the Alfalfa’s in Boulder is just a boutique for Whole Frauds escapees.

  • Bugboy

    “A current Whole Foods employee, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, says the issue is incompetence.”

    “Incompetence” seems to favor overpricing, for some reason. How convenient!

  • politicalfootball

    Surely if people were being overcharged, they wouldn’t be buying the products – that’s just Econ 101. This looks like just another case of an intrusive, out-of-control government interfering with our freedom to buy mislabeled products. John Mackey warned us that it might come to this.

    • alex284

      Reputation should be able to deal with this. Obviously if the government didn’t weight these items and lull consumers into a false sense of security, people would carry their own scales with them and weigh everything themselves and stop shopping at stores that make too many mistakes.

      • Baby Needs-A-Nym

        Clearly, Whole Foods could not long survive in business if they were to gain a reputation for being overpriced.

  • Shakezula

    A corporation founded and run by a libertarian doucheclog is engaging in illegal practices designed to rip off the customers? Shocking. And this only adds to the delight of seeing these places go up in food deserts.

    Really. You have no idea.

    • Ann Outhouse

      I’m still more inclined to attribute this to incompetence than deliberate policy. Too many people would have to be involved in the conspiracy, and what’s in it for the store employees? They’re not getting bonuses for this, AFAIK.

      Besides, “libertarian doucheclog” is pretty much a synonym for “cost-cutting, wage-suppressing cheap-ass”.

      • CD

        If they are tracking margins for each department in each store (and I’d be surprised if they weren’t) then the person in a position to enforce checking prices is also the person who looks good if margins are higher.

        IOW you don’t need a conspiracy. You just need lower-level managers worried about the numbers upper-level managers are looking at.

      • Shakezula

        I can only talk with any authority about the medical community, but lots of illegal activity happens via a carefully nurtured atmosphere of not knowing or caring what the hell is going on, provided the money continues to come in and no one sues. Done right it’s fraud and the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove Dr. Doolittle sat down and came up with a cunning plan to rip anyone off, they just have to show the rip off occurred.

        As for the employees – what’s in it for them is they get to keep their jobs provided they shut up and do what they’re told.

        • Denverite

          I was just reminded of you as I spent the better part of two hours going through the Noridian Western* States billing manual to figure out where they authorize an 80/20 split for cataract surgery between the MD and the OD for post-operative care.

          * Note: It’s the CA/NV region, so I’m not sure if Nino would count this as West.

  • RobNYNY1957

    The Columbus Circle Whole Foods (where I have not shopped in a few years) was constantly underweight on dried fruit and nuts back then. Even after repeated complaints on my part, the package weight often did not match the shelf tag or the scanner printout, though the price did. The error did not ever seem to be in my favor, and complaining about it was a tedious way to save a buck or two.1

  • There’s a family-owned small grocer a mile or so away that’s my go-to choice if I’m out and around by car. But I live on an insanely busy street in Oakland CA traversed by about 20,000 cars in the course of an average weekday. We have no off-street parking, and sometimes have to park almost half a mile away.

    And then there’s the Food Hole, which opened up seven years ago down the street about a two-minute walk from my home, with a small park a minute distant from that in which my dog (the best canine who has ever lived–sorry about your own pretenders) likes to frolic of a late afternoon after work. So yes, I do my grocery shopping at this conscienceless chain most evenings. But I find that, provided one does not yield to impulse-shopping (which is certainly encouraged by the store layout and by the distribution of its wares), it is possible to get out of the joint without breaking the bank.

  • cpinva

    “systematic problem”

    I like this. nice bueaurocratise for “They’re fucking you over every way till Sunday!”.

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