A Whole Foods Rant

I caused a fuss at Whole Foods last night.

After convincing Joey for the millionth night in a row to go out for dinner instead of making a nice homecooked meal with the fresh produce that’s slowly decaying in our fridge, we headed out to our nearby Whole Foods.  Which is actually so tiny that employees at the giant Boulder store refer to it as “Half Foods.”  I spotted a “Palak Paneer Naan Sandwich,” marked VEGETARIAN in the cold case and asked if they could warm it up for me.  All was fine and dandy until I realized whatever was in the the sandwich looked and tasted an awful lot like chicken.

I’m not vegetarian but I’d be willing to bet a lot of people in Whole Foods in Colorado are, so I took the sandwich back to the deli counter.  I alerted an employee behind the counter to what had happened and this is when things got weird.  Another employee asked what was wrong and the two of them sort of stared at each other, holding the VEGETARIAN sign and then asked “So do you want another one?”  Confused, I said yes and then awkwardly stood there while I waited for it to be heated up and for someone to act like giving someone who asked for a vegetarian dish a meat dish was a big deal.  No one did.

I genuinely dislike confronting management about anything, but after talking to Joey I decided to ask a nearby cashier if there was someone in customer service I could speak to.  I explained the situation to him and he grabbed his team leader, who came right over, tried to offer me a new sandwich then rushed away to “speak to his team.”  I told him I felt really bad and that I wasn’t a vegetarian, but my concern was that I could have been and no one had apologized or even thought it was a big deal, to which he very passionately explained that Whole Foods holds itself to a higher standard and people with dietary restrictions are large part of their market so he really needed to address his team

He also didn’t apologize.

The whole thing was very strange and also not the first time I have purchased something marked VEGETARIAN at Whole Foods and found myself eating meat.

End rant.


Have you ever faced a situation like this?

What would you have done?

Do you have a hard time making a complaint in a restaurant, etc.?

4 thoughts on “A Whole Foods Rant

  1. What a weird experience. I’m horrified that they didn’t apologize and rush immediately over to make sure nothing else was mis-marked. Good for you for saying something. I would’ve done the same thing.

    • I thought it was extremely strange! At least the first time it happened (at another store), they refunded my money, had me pick something else put, apologized profusely and had all the other mis-marked items removed right away. My sister works at a large Whole Foods in Boulder and says the situation would have been handled very differently there.

  2. Omg! You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me?!!? That is crazy! Omg, what if you WERE a vegetarian? Or even worse, what if you had an allergy to chicken?!?! That is total shit! And I can’t believe they reacted in that way…and didn’t even bother to apologize? What?

    I was just at my Whole Foods last week and was VERY disappointed with the items I got off of the hot bar. It was a disaster…the “roasted” veggies were dripping with grease, everything else tasted bland and/or salty…ick! After I took a couple of bites, I was so frustrated that I went to the customer service counter and voiced my concern. They were QUICK to apologize and gave me a FULL refund!

    Sounds like Denver’s WF’s needs to take some lessons! Just because they aren’t as big as some of the other stores, doesn’t mean they need to have a lower quality in customer service!

    • Now that’s the reaction I was looking for! I’m generally disappointed in the hot bar items at WF. I know they’re good quality and all, but when they sit out like they do, they can get a little gross. Then I feel crazy when people go out of their way to get an expensive box of hot bar stuff from there and talk about how good it is. Maybe it’s me?

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