March 06, 2009
Weights and Measures: protecting consumers and retailers in Vermont
This is the first part of a series this month highlighting the work of the Weights and Measures division at the Agency of Agriculture
Montpelier, Vt - It’s always important for consumers to get what they pay for and for retailers to be compensated for what they sell, but it is crucial during these difficult economic times. That’s where our Weights and Measures inspectors come in. These diligent and dedicated individuals visit hundreds of retail and private establishments each year to make sure that consumers pay the listed amount for products and that retailers receive the amount advertised for products.
Fairness in the marketplace is a cornerstone of economic health for consumers and businesses alike. That is why, on March 2, 1799, John Quincy Adams signed the first weights and measures law in the United States.
In a time when we are looking for efficient and effective government, we need to look no further than our state weights and measures program. Considering that as much as 50 percent of a family’s income is spent on consumer goods, the impact on an inaccurate marketplace can be significant to each of us. Nationally, the cost of a regulatory presence is less than $1 per person, per year. Yet we can realize the full return of this investment in a single trip to the market.
The effect of small inaccuracies in transactions can be profound. For example, if every gas pump in the country were inaccurate by as little as a tablespoon per 5 gallons of gas, it would amount to a cumulative error of $125 million annually. If every pound of meat were weighed incorrectly by as little as .01 pound, it would amount to 500 million pounds annually.
“We need to recognize the very important role Weights and Measures officials in our state have in all commercial transactions,” said Henry Marckres, Chief the Consumer Protection Division at the Agency of Agriculture. “These men and women are an invisible third party in every commercial transaction, protecting consumers and sellers, ensuring you get what you pay for.”
This program is possible because of a set of weights and measures standards to which industry adheres and consumers can count on. What would consumers do if this system did not exist? Bring their own measuring devices to make certain that they got their fair share for each purchase? “It is not something each of us considers, but applying uniform weights and measures standards to commercial transactions is one of the most important supports to a strong national economy,” continued Marckres.
The Agency of Agriculture Consumer Protection Division specialists check that the accuracy of commercial weighing and measuring devices meet the standards set by the National Weights and Measures Conference. This protects both consumer and industry in marketplace transactions. Weights and Measures officials also help ensure that products and services sold by weight or measure comply with federal, state and local laws. The Agency of Agriculture inspects over 2700 scales, 7000 gas pumps and 400 oil meters each year.
Source: Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Last Updated at: March 06, 2009 15:27:11