Our Friends & Neighbors
Consumer Information Center
Weights & Measures Tips For Consumers
Getting What You Pay For
Weights & Measures?
Almost everything we buy is sold by weight, volume, length, count, or measure. Think of examples--a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, a liter of wine, a yard of cloth, a pound of hamburger, 128 cu. ft. of firewood.
Without standard measurements, it would be difficult to do even simple things like use cookbooks or buy carpeting, laundry detergent, and fabric.
do we know we are getting what we pay for?
Weights and measures officials work in agriculture departments, consumer protections offices, and other state and local government agencies.
These men and women use highly accurate equipment to inspect scales, meters, scanning equipment and packaged products at supermarkets. They also inspect weighing and measuring equipment and packages at warehouses, packing plants, feed mills, shipping companies, lumber yards, and gasoline stations. They act as a third party to help maintain fairness and keep the marketplace in balance.
What does "Net Weight" on a package tell me?
In many stores, the electronic or computerized scales used at the check-out counter are set to automatically deduct the weight of the packaging. On other scales, the sales clerk must adjust the scale, setting it under the "0" mark to deduct the packaging materials.
Scales must be placed so you can see the weighing process. If you have a question about a packaged item, you have a right to have the package weighed again before you buy. Make sure the weight of the packaging has been deducted.
Weights and measures officials often visit stores to inspect and reweigh prepackaged products. The same officials are required by law to check the accuracy of all commercial weighing and measuring devices at least once each calendar year. If you see a weighing or measuring device that does not have a dated seal from the current year, or the previous year, contact the Massachusetts Division of Standards at (617) 727-3480 for assistance. You will be helping yourself and your neighbors.
can I do to lessen the chance of being cheated?
Second: Make sure the scale shows
a zero condition before anything is placed on it. The weigher
may enter information that will cause the scale register a minus sign
on the display. This is called "entering the tare", which
is a process of deducting the weight of the packaging.
Fourth: State law states that you have the right to have a pre-package item weighed again in your presence. If a scale showes a zero on the display with nothing on it, and you place a pre-packaged item on that scale, the scale should show a weight that is greater than the net weight stated on the package. This greater weight is called the gross weight, and is the sum of the tare weight, plus the net weight.
If you have any questions about how a store weighs or measures its products, ask the manager for information first. He or she should answer your questions.
If the problem is not resolved, contact your local weights and measures office, or the Massachusetts Division of Standards at (617) 727-3480 for assistance.
Make sure the scale shows a zero or minus sign before anything is weighed. Pay ONLY for the product. NOT for the packaging.
If you have any questions about how a store weighs or measures products, ask the manager for information first. He or she should answer your questions.
If the problem is not resolved, contact your local weights and measures office for advice or assistance.