The Worst Thing About Shopping at Whole Foods Isn’t Actually the Prices

If you’ve ever shopped at Whole Foods, you likely have a few gripes. One of those gripes is probably about the prices. However, there’s a lot more wrong with the store than high prices. It isn’t even the worst thing about the shopping experience. You’ve probably had your own not-so-nice experiences at this store, but we’ll tell you about a major problem that makes shopping here unpleasant for many customers.

Here is the worst thing about shopping at Whole Foods.

Hopes dashed

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The issues haven’t improved. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon’s $13.7 billion deal to purchase Whole Foods had a lot of customers hoping this would make the store better. Unfortunately, not much has changed. Lines are still long, parking is still chaotic, and prices are still high. In fact, some aspects of the Whole Foods shopping experience have gotten worse. Some prices did go down, but other items have increased. The Washington Post reported on a research study that found some Whole Foods items were 1.2% higher than before Amazon bought the company.

Next: Where’s the food?

Empty shelves

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Shelves are too often empty. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

One thing shoppers are noticing is that Whole Foods is starting to run out of items. These days, if you come in to make a purchase, quite a few things might not make it into your shopping bag. It’s becoming more common for customers to go in for their favorite items and leave empty-handed. You would think a store just purchased by a powerhouse like Amazon would have its act together, but this isn’t the case in many Whole Foods stores across the country.

Next: Customers are not so happy.

Angry customers

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Customers are fed up. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The empty store shelves haven’t gone unnoticed. One shopper told USA Today she wasn’t even able to buy basic items at her local Whole Foods in Massachusetts. During one of her recent shopping trips, she said the store was out of strawberries, bananas, and microgreens. Barclays analyst Karen Short told the newspaper that one store had a pretty significant shortage. This location was out of cookies, crackers, popcorn, canned beans, canned peaches, and even bottled water.

Next: Why are the shelves empty?

Why is this happening?

whole foods produce

They know there’s a problem, but the inventory management system is causing issues. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The items you need aren’t staying on shelves very long because of a new inventory management system, according to Business Insider. Whole Foods employees and managers spoke to the publication about the situation. “At my store, we are constantly running out of products in every department … Regional and upper store management know about this. We all know we are losing sales and pissing off customers. It’s not that we don’t care — we do. But our hands are tied,” a manager told Business Insider.

Next: Working the system

How the new system works

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It is not working so far. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The new management system is called order-to-shelf, or OTS. The goal of the system is to tighten up the process and keep tabs on displays, product purchases, sales, and storage. This updated system skips over the stock room and enables employees to place products directly from the delivery truck to store shelves, says Business Insider. This is supposed to help Whole Foods save money and keep better track of inventory. However, the result has been a mess so far.

Next: Will you be able to get help when you need it?

Customer service is going down the tubes

Employees have less time for customers. | David McNew/Getty Images

Now that some employees are involved in managing the new order-to-shelf system, they have less time for the customers. Before, you might have had a Whole Foods employee following you around the store to answer your questions and assist you with purchases. However, the OTS system will likely make it a lot harder to find someone to assist you. Having a live human help you might become even more difficult with the arrival of store kiosks.

Next: The employees aren’t happy.

Disgruntled employees

Whole Foods in Willowbrook, Ill.

Some employees are handing in their resignation. | Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

Employees aren’t thrilled about the changes taking place at Whole Foods. Some have gotten so fed up that they’ve decided to hand in their resignation letters. A Whole Foods employee who goes by the username “foliagelindsey” expressed her frustration on Reddit:

I work at Whole Foods. We have people quitting left and right who have been with the company 5+ years. I am a new buyer and since this system was implemented I wish I hadn’t taken on the extra responsibility. I agree that it is militaristic. We are so worried about our back-stock percentage, filling out the work logs, updating the comm board and promo map that we are not free for more customer service — the contrary, actually.

Next: There’s more.

And that’s not all that’s wrong

Samples are limited too. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Because of the new system, there are also fewer local products. In addition, if you look forward to trying out store samples, you might be out of luck. So, don’t be surprised if samples run out quickly or the selection leaves much to be desired.

It seems like Whole Foods has been on quite a few people’s naughty list. Both shoppers and employees are dissatisfied with the recent changes. Will things get better? For now, we can only wait and see.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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