Watch Out for Short Weight Items

23/07/2013 08:22

“Trust, but verify” should be the motto of every consumer. Consumers pay price for goods and services based on weights and measures. They expect labels to disclose correct information such as ingredients, brand, total weight and other aspects to enable them to make informed choices.

Unfortunately, consumer fraud is common where consumers are being short-changed for products that are under-filled but the labels show overstated weight.  Short weight is often less detectable by consumers. Short weight is where the unscrupulous traders sell a product that actually weighs less than what is stated in the said product. For example, you buy 2kg of sugar which actually weighs 1.7kg instead of 2 kg.

Short weight arises when the measuring equipment such as scales register the products inaccurately. . It is also where a wrong method/means of measuring is used or an estimated weight is provided. Short weight can further happen when the traders tamper with the weighing instruments as a way of selling less for more. This result in consumers not getting real value for their money since tampering with weight is an attempt to increase its price.

You may have experienced short weight with common items such as kerosene, flour, sugar, rice, bread, split peas, mixed vegetables, meat, garlic, onion or potatoes to name a few.  

The Council, through its market surveillance and based on consumer complaints, found deceptive practices used by some traders.

Market Surveillance Finding 

Bread Underweight

A bread shop was found to be selling bread which was underweight. The weight of the bread was below the regulated 400 gram that a loaf should weigh. This bread shop’s baker was using a trade-approved scale which was registering incorrect readings. Because of this error, the bread was found to be below the required weight of 400 grams. The Council brought this matter to the attention of the Department of National Trade Measurement & Standards (DNTMS). The bread shop was immediately issued with a Rejection Certificate and the bread shop was stopped from using the scale. DNTMS advised the bread shop that the scale could only be used if it is repaired by a certified repairer and certified by the DNTMS.

Kerosene – short measure

A shopkeeper used a 4 litre plastic bottle to measure kerosene. The plastic bottle was marked to depict 1 litre. The matter was highlighted to DNTMS and they found that the marking on the 4 litre plastic bottle was incorrect. A Rejection Certificate was issued by the department and the retailer was restrained from using the bottle. The shop owner was required to purchase a litre measuring can which was certified by DNTMS.

The National and Trade Measurement Decree 1989 and its regulations dealing with the accuracy of weights and measures was enacted to protect the interests of consumers with regards to purchases that are weighed, measured and pre-packed. The law and regulations are administered by DNTMS.

All measuring instruments used for trade such as scales and measuring containers must bear a valid stamp of approval or sticker from the DNTMS which is valid for 12 months.

When traders are weighing goods, the dials on weigh scales or weight information on the instruments must face the consumer. For example, if you are buying loose potatoes, the weight and information on the scale must be clearly visible to you. You must also ensure that the scale needle is pointing at zero. A scale set ahead of zero can shortchange every consumer.

Consumers are advised to immediately inform the Consumer Council of Fiji or DNTMS providing information about instruments and locations of any trader using measuring instruments that does not have the DNTMS sticker of approval.