Oneida County Department of Weights & Measures

The Weights & Measures Inspector

Are You Protected?

When a consumer makes a purchase in the supermarket, gas station, or other retail establishment, two elements are primary in the decision process: quality and quantity. Quality is a subjective matter. One person's good quality can be another person's bad taste. In a free market society, deciding on the level of 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 necessary to the public welfare. Beyond that each individual is free to make his own choice of "quality".


Not so with quantity. The quantity in the package can be determined and to a high degree of accuracy. It would be unrealistic for every consumer to spend the time and effort required to verify the amount contained in each package purchased. It is much more realistic to have a few people checking packages for the general public so that the consumer can reasonably be sure that when the package is labeled "1 Lb.", that there is one pound in the package. There are such people. They are checking the quantity of contents in packages in your supermarket today. What they do 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 and measuring techniques.

They are your Weights & Measures Inspectors.

At Your Service

The Weights & Measures Inspector does much more than just check package quantities. He or she also may be found at any given time in a working day, checking the accuracy of such things as scales and other measuring devices in the supermarket, hardware, drug, or department store, the neighborhood gas station or anywhere that consumer goods are sold. These officials also check behind the scene at places like grain elevators, livestock yards, dairy farms, scrap and precious metal dealers and fuel oil companies to assure accuracy.

"That Equity May Prevail"

This is the motto of the National Conference on Weights & Measures. The conference has been in existence since 1905. Its primary reason for existing is to make the motto "That Equity May Prevail" as true as possible in commerce. Weights & Measures Officials from each of the States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, meet each year with industry and consumer representatives to work out laws and codes and methods to ensure that

  • Consumers get what they pay for
  • Accuracy prevails in commercial measurement
  • The same system is used nationwide

Packaging and Labeling

Nearly everything that a consumer buys today is prepackaged. It is important that the correct amount be in a package and that the consumer have adequate and correct information on the outside of the package. For example, the amount contained inside the package must be printed clearly in a specific location on the label.

An aid to consumers for the cost comparison is the posting of the price per pound or per ounce on the shelf; this is the Unit Price.

Weights & Measures Inspectors play a central role in the marketplace to assure the consumer that packaging and labeling requirements are met.

How "Short Measure" Adds Up

If a piece of meat, selling for $4.99 a pound, has an error in weighing of only 3/100ths of a pound, the error will cost each consumer 15 cents before the package gets out the front door. A scale that is incorrect by 3/100ths of a pound on each weighing, making 200 weighings a day for 300 days a year at a unit price of $2.99/lb. will result in a total error of $5400 a year. An error of a tablespoon worth of gas per gallon can add up to over $27,000 a year!

What Should You Do If...

  • "This scale is not weighing correctly."
  • "This package I bought doesn't have the correct amount in it."
  • "I think that gas pump is registering more gallons than it's giving."

Thoughts such as these occur to consumers in the course of a days shopping. Sometimes these suspicions are correct. Weighing and measuring devices such as scales or gas dispensers are mechanical instruments, after all, and so are subject to wear and tear and error. A malfunction on the packaging line can result in a package not being filled with the stated amount. This does not mean that the consumer should accept an insufficient commodity.

What should you do if you feel you have encountered an incorrect weights and measures device or a short weight package?

Let Us Know!!! We suggest that you contact this office immediately. See this website for contact information.

Have the important information ready to give for your complaint (name and location of the store or station, description of the item, price paid, number of register or dispenser).

Complaints from consumers are integral for the Weights & Measures Inspectors to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Consumers are the best "eyes and ears" that the inspectors have. If you feel that a problem exists, make the call.

Oneida County Partners