The Weights and Measures Division is committed to protecting the economic health of the community by preserving and maintaining confidence in the accuracy of weighing and measuring instruments, product standards, and business practices used in commerce. Through this balanced commitment and timely response to citizen requests, consumers and businesses are assured the means of accurate value comparison and fair competition. The weights and measures division is broken into several components: weighing devices; measuring devices; quantity control; scanner verification; and the certified weighmaster program. The Weights and Measures Division also responds to firewood complaints.
The County Sealer of Weights and Measures ensures that all commercially used weighing devices are tested for accuracy. In addition to being accurate, devices must adhere to specific design and installation requirements, and be used correctly. The most familiar types of devices are the scales used at store check stands.
Instruments used to determine volume, distance, dimensions, and time are all measuring devices. The device that people are most familiar with is the gas pump. Inside the cabinet is a meter that determines the quantity of fuel dispensed. Standards Specialists test each meter by dispensing five gallons at the fast (or open) speed then five gallons at the slow (restricted) speed into calibrated measures, compare the monetary computations, check that the tamper-proof seal on the meter adjustment is intact, and other details required in the Examination Procedure Outline distributed by Measurement Standards. Other measuring devices include taximeters, wire and rope meters; wholesale water meters; oil meters; timers in car washes, laundromats, parking garages, milk tanks and propane meters. Utility meters such as electric, gas, and water, used in mobile home parks are required to be tested at least every ten years. Each examination tests the meters ability to accurately register at full and light loads and other specifications (as outlined in the EPO). Our standards are verified by California Measurements periodically for accuracy.
This program visits packers, distributors and retailers to audit the contents of packaged products. The contents must equal the amount stated on the label. Routine inspections of meat counters, bakeries, and deli sections of supermarkets are conducted. Samples of packages are taken and re-weighed using the county's scale or measured in calibrated flasks. The labeled amount and the true net contents are compared. Some commodities require special test methods and are given certain allowances for moisture loss, and individual variances are factored in. Every type of commodity is subject to quantity control inspection, not just food items. Categories of commodities tested include: packaged seed and garden products, bread and bakery items, cheese and dairy products, farm products and supplies, building materials and maintenance supplies, feed and grain, and automotive and industrial lubricants, chemicals, and cleaners. The State Division assigns commodity categories to different counties on a quarterly basis, so the same categories of products are inspected over a wide geographic area.
Were you charged the lowest advertised price? Bar code readers, scanners, and price look-up systems have replaced individual prices on items. Price verification consists of periodic simulated purchases at businesses utilizing scanners, or point-of-sale systems, in an effort to eliminate unfair competition and "bait and switch" activities. This area has become more important because many or all stores of national chains determine their pricing through a central computer; an error in one store is an error in them all.
Test purchases of other commodities, such as deli items, health foods, hardware, landscape materials, U-haul concrete, and firewood are also conducted, as are test sales of recyclables. Firewood dealers are required to leave an invoice with their name, address, date and amount of wood delivered. Any shortage from the amount invoiced is a violation.
Weighmasters are persons, licensed by the Division of Measurement Standards, who certify the weighed, measured, or counted quantity of any commodity. Specific criteria must be followed when issuing weighmaster certificates. Weighmasters are regularly inspected to ensure the accuracy of their certifications.