Weights and Measures: Are You Getting What You Paid For?

ANNAPOLIS - Every day, Marylanders decide what to buy - at the grocery store and the gas pump, home heating oil or a piece of jewelry, firewood or mulch. These diverse purchasing decisions have one common thread: the trust citizens can have that they are getting what they pay for because the weighing and measuring devices are accurate. This year's observance of Weights and Measures Week will commemorate the 208th anniversary of the signing of the first weights and measures law in the United States on March 2, 1799.

"Governor Martin O'Malley has issued at Proclamation for Weights and Measures Week to raise awareness about the important role state government officials at the Department of Agriculture have in assuring that consumers and businesses have a level playing field in the economy," said Agriculture Secretary Roger L. Richardson. "MDA is responsible for regulating anything sold by weight, measure or count, it is the job of agency inspectors to make sure you get what you pay for."

Maryland's weights and measures officials test many different types of weighing and measuring devices including scales, price scanning equipment, gasoline pumps, meters to measure home fuel oil deliveries and highway truck scales. An important part of their job is to randomly check packaged goods to be sure they contain the quantity printed on the label. Inspectors also examine consumer complaints that have ranged from common gas pump complaints to the number of blood worms in a package or the number bbs in a box of pellet gun ammunition.

"Most people take for granted that they are getting what they pay for, but fail to realize that the cumulative costs of even tiny measurement inaccuracies can be enormous," said Weights and Measures Chief Richard Wotthlie. "Anyone doing business in our state knows they can count on fairness in the marketplace."

Approximately one-half of the U.S. economy can be attributed to some function of weights and measures activity.

For more information on the Weights and Measures Program in Maryland or if you think the "cord" of firewood delivered to your home is short measure, the gasoline pump at the corner station is incorrect, or the weight or measure of any product you purchase is incorrect and you can't get the seller to resolve the problem contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures Section, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401, (410) 841-5790. For more information about Maryland Weights and Measures, log onto www.mda.state.md.us.

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