Whole Foods is facing a new consumer class action lawsuit alleging the chain of natural food supermarkets deceptively overcharges customers for health bars known as Larabars.

Plaintiff Thomas Alston originally filed the Whole Foods overcharge class action lawsuit in November 2017 in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that Whole Foods misrepresented the actual price of Larabars and intentionally misled Alston and other shoppers into believing the price for the Larabars were less than the actual price. The case was removed to federal court in December.

Alston details that on numerous occasions, when shopping at a Whole Foods in Washington D.C., he purchased Larabars that were advertised at a sale price of $1.00 as opposed to the regular, non-sale price of $1.29. In fact, because they were on sale, is why Alston decided to purchase the Larabars.

However, after making several purchases over several days, he looked at his receipts and noticed that he was being charged $1.29 instead of the advertised $1.00 sale price for the Larabars. Alston contends that Whole Foods purposely and deceptively advertised the Larabars as being on sale in order to generate more sales.

“Whole Foods calculated that most consumers would not notice the 29 cents overcharge, would not bother to say anything after they noticed the overcharge or that they would simply refund the overcharge if a consumer requested a refund,” the Whole Foods class action lawsuit states.

While 29 cents may not seem like much of an overcharge, consider that Whole Foods operates approximately 470 stores across the United States. If just one customer purchased 5 Larabars at each of those 470 and were overcharged 29 cents, that’s $681.00! Now imagine, if over 100,000 customers purchased the deceptively priced Larabars from Whole Foods – that’s close to $150,000 in overcharges that Whole Foods keeps and the consumers lose out on!

And that’s the case that Alston is trying to make. It is unlawful for Whole Foods to list the sale prices on Larabars, or any product for that matter, and then charge the customer full price at the register, hoping they just won’t notice or care. The class action lawsuit is attempting to hold Whole Foods accountable for these alleged deceptive and fraudulent sales tactics.

Alston is seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who since 2014, have purchased a Larabar from Whole Foods and paid $1.29 for the Larabar when the Larabar’s listed sale price was $1.00.

Among actual, statutory, and punitive damages, Alston is asking for costs incurred while traveling to Whole Foods to buy the Larabars while they were on sale as well as for “the frustration, irritation, annoyance, and anger of being defrauded into expending money he would not have otherwise spent; physical sickness resulting for emotional and mental distress; and for court costs and attorneys’ fees.”

Alston is representing himself in the Whole Foods Overcharge class action lawsuit and has requested a trial by jury.

The Whole Foods Overcharge Class Action Lawsuit is Thomas Alston v. Whole Foods Market Group, Case No. 1:17-cv-02580-EGS, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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