Weights & Measures - How We Test
motor fuel dispensers
Retail motor fuel dispensers are annually checked for accuracy and an appropriate security seal is placed on the device to ensure that they are not tampered with. The allowable error is plus or minus 6 cubic inches per indicated 5 gallons for annual visits, and plus or minus 3 cubic inches per indicated 5 gallons for new devices or devices that have been serviced within 30 days. (One cubic inch is equal to 0.004329004 gallons, or 0.5541126 fluid ounces. Conversely, one gallon is equal to 231 cubic inches and one ounce is equal to 1.8046875 cubic inches.) All devices are rejected if they are in tolerance but the average is predominately in favor of the owner or user. Dispensers are also checked to ensure that there is no diversion of flow from the hose, that the automatic shutoff is functioning properly, that the indicators are all legible, and that the price is calculated properly and agrees with the advertised price.
Scales are annually checked for accuracy and an appropriate security seal is placed on the device to ensure that they are not tampered with. The allowable error depends on the type scale being tested and the accuracy class of the scale.. The types most commonly seen by retail consumers are Counter / Bench, Computing, Vehicle, Large Capacity Platform, and Hanging. Most scales found in stores are Class III scales. As an example, for a Counter / Bench scale with a capacity of thirty pounds and an accuracy of 0.01 pounds, the allowable error is plus or minus 0.03 pounds for annual visits, and plus or minus .015 pounds for new devices or devices that have been serviced within 30 days. The scale is tested with certified weights placed in the center of the weigh platform as well as at the midpoints on each side of the platform. The scale is also tested to make sure it returns to zero after the weights are removed, that the indicating display is legible and working, and that it is level. For computing scales used in direct sales to retail customers, weight indications shall be shown on the customer's side.
Price Verification (Scanners)
Price verification is conducted at least once a year on a random sample of businesses that use scanners. Auditor Dusty Rhodes' Office uses two methods for testing scanners. The one method uses a hand held laser scanning unit that prints out the appropriate bar codes for each package scanned. The other method involves taking the actual products off the shelves and manually scanning them on the store's own scanner units. The printouts created by the hand held unit are verified to the shelf labels and then taken to the actual scanner units used by the store. If what is shown on the store's scanner differs from the shelf information, the store is allowed to make adjustments. If the item still scans differently, the specific item is failed. A store is only allowed a plus or minus two percent error. If it exceeds the two percent, the store is formally failed and given ten days to correct the error. The two percent is calculated on the total number of items tested. So if one hundred items are tested, the store can only have two items scan incorrectly. The error can be in the favor of the store or the customer.
Packages are checked based on procedures established by the National Conference on Weights and Measures and adopted by Ohio as part of its laws and regulations. An example of packages tested by Auditor Rhodes' Office include meat, mulch, seafood, poultry, milk, and juice. Packages are checked to make sure the net contents shown on the container equal the amount of the product being sold. The net contents exclude packaging materials for packages sold by weight. This packaging material, known as the tare weight, includes the package container, wrapper or other materials that are not part of the actual product being sold. All packages must meet two requirements:
- The average quantity of contents of packages in a lot, shipment, or delivery must equal or exceed the quantity printed on the label, and
- The variation of the individual package contents from the labeled quantity must not be "unreasonably large".
Under Ohio law, the Auditor can remove from sale those packages that fail the standard tests. This includes physically removing the products from the store's premises. The specific procedures followed are outlined in the Examination Procedures Outline prepared by the State of Ohio, and in Handbook 133 - Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods as adopted by the National Conference on Weights & Measures.