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    Consumer Tips for Scales and Scanners

    Electronic Scanners

    Many stores use electronic scanners to figure the price at the checkout counter.  These scanners are linked to a computer that reads the price of the item.  Some scanners are hand held and the clerk runs the scanner over the price tag.  Other scanners are on a counter and the items are passed over and electronic reading device.  The scanner reads a bar code on the product or the tag and the computer computes the price. 

    Montgomery County weights and measures inspectors inspect scanners for accuracy to make sure you are charged the correct price.  If scanners are inaccurate, consumers and businesses can both lose money.

    There are several things to know and remember about the scanning process.

    1. When selecting an item from the shelf, make sure the shelf label displaying the price is for the product you have selected.  Many times consumers will place an item back on the self in the wrong place.
    2. Look for additional advertising that could display a different price (in a store flyer or a sale item).
    3. Make a mental note of the item or write the price of the item on the item itself before you place it in your basket.  This saves a lot of questions at the check out lane.
    4. Watch all items as they are being scanned.
    5. If an item scans incorrectly ask the cashier to enter the correct price.
    6. All stores have a policy to correct errors.  Don't be afraid to ask what the policy is and ask them adhere to it.

    Over the Counter Sales

    How many times do you encounter the use of a scale when purchasing grocery items from your local supermarket?  Was the scale weighing accurately?  Did the store attendant weight your purchase properly?  Alert consumers often ask these and other questions.  There are several things to know and remember when purchasing over the counter grocery items.

    1. All commodities must be sold by definite units of measurement: by weight, by measure or by count.
    2. Net weight does not include the weight of the bag, wrapper, container or other packaging material.  For example: when purchasing deli products, produce, meat or other items by the pound, be sure the person weighing your purchase makes allowances for the weight of the packaging material (tare).
    3. When buying by count, check to be sure you have received the correct amount.
    4. Learn to read the scale indicators and observe the weighing of your purchase.  The scales and their quantity values indicators must be visible to the consumer.
    5. Check to see that the net weight, total price indications read zero and the correct price per pound is entered before the product is weighed.
    6. Look for the black and white approval seal on all scales.  This seal indicates the scale has been inspected by a weights and measures official.
    7. Question the merchant if you are in doubt about a transaction.  If you suspect short weight, it could be the result of an error that could easily be corrected.
    8. If a problem arises that is not corrected by the merchant, take note of the location of the scale and an identifying number (such as the checkout lane) before contacting the Montgomery County Auditor's office.

    Every consumer should expect accurate weights and measures in their purchases just as they would expect accurate change from a cashier.  Reliable merchants want to know that their customers are receiving full measure for the dollars they spend.

    Merchants and consumers should be aware that weighing and measuring devices are delicate mechanisms and can become inaccurate through the wear and tear of constant use.

    Whether buyer or seller, be aware of your rights and responsibilities.  Be acquainted with your local weights and measures office and when in doubt about weights and measures matters, contact them.