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Consumer Information

Getting What You Pay For

It's hard to be a smart consumer today. You think about the products you buy and the amount you can spend. Can I afford this? Is this the best buy? Am I getting my money's worth?

Almost everything we buy is sold by weight, volume, length, count, or measure. Think of examples--a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, a liter of wine, a yard of cloth, a pound of hamburger, a cord of firewood.

Without standard measurements, it would be difficult to do even simple things like use cookbooks or buy carpeting, laundry detergent, and fabric.

Keeping the Market in Balance

You don't carry a scale or measuring tape with you to check the weight or measure of everything you buy. How do you know you're getting what you pay for?

For hundreds of years, your local weights and measures officials have been working behind the scenes to protect consumers, businesses, and manufacturers from unfair practices.

Weights and measures officials work in agriculture departments, consumer protections offices, and other state and local government agencies.

These men and women use highly accurate equipment to inspect scales, meters, scanning equipment and packaged products at supermarkets. They also inspect weighing and measuring equipment and packages at warehouses, packing plants, feed mills, shipping companies, lumber yards, and gasoline stations. They act as a third party to help maintain fairness and keep the marketplace in balance.

Each state has a metrology laboratory which has a set of standard weights and measures. These are used to check the accuracy of the equipment used by weights and measures officials and industry.

Know Rights and Responsibilities

Consumers have rights and responsibilities in the marketplace! Knowing what to do, can help the market work at its best.

Weights and Measures is Everyone's Business

Thousands of state and local weights and measures officials are working behind the scenes throughout the country to protect YOU!

Consumers and businesses both benefit and can help their local weights and measures officials enforce the law and help to keep a fair marketplace.

Look for Seals

Weights and measures officials test weighing and measuring devices such as gasoline pumps and scales. A seal is usually put on to show that the equipment was tested and found correct.

The seal may vary from state to state, but always look for a seal. If you do not see one, ask the store manager. Contact your weights and measures office if seals are missing.

Do Your Part

If you have a problem with a weights or measures issue:

Talk with the store manager or owner.

Give the manager or owner a chance to correct the problem.

If the manager can't or won't resolve the problem, or answer questions to your satisfaction, contact your local weights and measures office listed on the home page of this site.  You can also write or call the:

National Conference on Weights and Measures

P.O. Box 4025

Gaithersburg, MD 20885


This information was brought to you by: The National Conference on Weights and Measures

And Your Local Weights and Measures Officials

The National Conference on Weights and Measures is sponsored by:


United States Department of Commerce

National Institute of Standards and Technology