Consumer Information About Weights and Measures
Are You Protected?
When a consumer makes a purchase in the department store of supermarket, two elements are primary in the decision process: Quality and Quantity.
Quality is subjective matter. One person’s good quality can be another person’s bad taste. In a free market economy, deciding on the best quality to purchase is left to the judgement of the individual purchaser. Government regulates quality only to the extent that certain minimum standards for health and safety are imperative to the efficient functioning of a free market economy. Beyond that, “quality” becomes a highly subjective matter.
Not so with quantity, however. The content of a package can be determined, and to a high degree of accuracy. But determining the amount in the package requires a great deal of training, a thorough technical knowledge of the varying characteristics of different types of commodities, and a wide range of precise measuring equipment. Needles to say, it would be unrealistic for every consumer in the United States to spend the time and effort required to verify the amount contained in each package that he purchases.
It is much more realistic to have a few people checking packages so that the public can be sure that when the package says “one pound,” there is one pound in the package. There are such people. They are checking the quantity of contents of packages in your supermarket today. They are your weights and measures officials.
At Your Service
Weights and Measures officials do much more than just check package quantities, however. They also may be found checking the accuracy of such things as the UPC scanner and scale in the supermarket, the neighborhood gasoline pump, L.P. gas scale – almost every weighting and measuring device that effects your pocketbook.
The County Auditor is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices used commercially in the county. A good Weights and Measures program saves the average household at least $300 per year. The Weights & Measures Department protects both the buyer and the seller to ensure equity in the marketplace.
When Purchasing Gas
Be sure that zero is indicated on amount of gallons and total of purchase before starting pump.
Multiply the price per gallon by the amount of gallons to be sure the total price is correct.
When possible, pump one gallon on self serve pump and check price against price per gallon advertised on pump.
Take note of identifying number on gasoline pump in case a problem should develop, this will help our department to check out your complaint.
If purchasing fuel oil or gasoline in large quantities from a metered vehicle truck, when possible watch the meter as the fuel is pumped. This works the same as a gasoline pump. Check to see that the meter is sealed by the Weights and Measures Department, If not, Question why. This seal is visible and very important because it prevents tampering with the meter.
Be sure you receive a delivery ticket that states:
- The name and address of the vendor and purchaser;
- The date delivered;
- The price and quantity delivered;
- The identity of the product.
See that net weight and total price indications show zero before product is weighed.
Make sure the correct price per pound is entered.
In over-the-counter sales, the scales and their quantity value indicators must be in plain view of the customer.
Keep in mind when you are purchasing merchandise on a counter scale that the height of the person can cause a difference when reading the indicator on scales that are not electronic.
Merchants should check all devices for accuracy at least once a day. (A scale weighing 1 ounce light when weighing a product selling for $1.00 per pound, repeated 100 times a day for one year would result in a loss of $1,875.00 for consumers annually.)
Question the merchant if you are in doubt about a transaction and do not condemn too hurriedly in case of short weight, it could be the result of an error that he could quickly rectify if brought to his attention.
Look for the current year County Auditor Weights and Measures approval sticker on the weighing device.
If more than one scale of the same type is in operation, note the number of the scale (such as checkout counters) in case of a problem.
When Buying By Count
Ask the druggist how many pills you are supposed to receive and ask him to include the amount on the label of the prescription.
Count the prescription and be sure that you have received the correct amount.
If a shortage is found, telephone of return ot the pharmacy and report the error immediately.
Shortages are caused by human error or by electronic counters which can malfunction.
Over the Counter Merchandise:
Spot check anything that is sold by count such as aspirin, bottled vitamins, plastic bags. stationery and office supplies.
When Purchasing Firewood
In Ohio, the most common, legal method of sale for firewood is the cord or fraction of a cord. A “cord” is defined as 128 cubic feet when the wood is stacked and well stowed.
The seller must provide the purchase with a delivery ticket with:
- The name and address of the vendor and purchaser.
- Delivery date;
- Amount delivered;
- Quantity upon which the price is based;
- Total price of amount delivered;
- Identity of the product in descriptive terms.
When selling, advertising, or offering firewood for sale, a “cord” is the acceptable measure to use.
Prepackage Commodities and Labels
Two things to know and remember:
All prepared goods must be marked with a statement concerning net contents.
Net weight DOES NOT include the weight of the bag, wrapper, or container of any kind in which a commodity may be weighed.
Bread must be sold by net weight, wrapped or not. Pies and cakes which are boxed must also state net weight.
When purchasing produce by the pound, be sure that the person weighing it allows for the plastic bag (usually 0.01 lbs. and it DOES make a difference in the total price).
Meat and meat products must be sold by net weight.
All commodities must be sold by definite unit of measurements: by weight, by measure, or by numerical count.
Suggestion to Consumers
Be an informed consumer by knowing what is required of merchants.
Learn to read the scale indicators, and observe the weighing of your purchases.
Make sure a purchase by weight is NET WEIGHT, and does not include wrapping material.
Expect accurate weight and measure in your purchased as you expect accurate change from the cashier.
The Reliable Merchant
- Contacts the local weights and Measures office after installing or repairing weighing and measuring devices of if questions arise.
- Wants to know that his customers are receiving full measure for the dollars they spend – no more, no less.
- Is aware that weighing and measuring devices are delicate mechanisms and can become inaccurate through the wear and tear of constant use.
- Spot checks merchandise he buys for accuracy – no merchant can receive and pay for 5 pounds of meat, only receive 4 pounds and break even.
- Cares for and maintains his equipment properly to maximize accuracy.
- Makes sure advertising and labeling are clear and informative.
Buyer and Seller
Be acquainted with your weights and measures officials under the supervision of the County Auditor.
If in doubt on any weighting and measuring matter, contact the County Auditor’s Office from your local phone exchange.
Western Lake County 918-2500 Ext. 2535
Madison 298-3334 Ext 2535