Spring gardens are about to bloom across North Carolina. But before homeowners dig in to a new year, the department’s Standards Division is inspecting mulch, fertilizer and other garden products to make sure consumers aren’t short changed at checkout.
The department employs 38 weights and measures inspectors who inspect everything from gas pumps and taxi-cab meters to price scanners and truck scales. The inspectors recently completed their review of mulch packers and are currently checking fertilizer plants across the state.
“If you pay for a 50-pound bag of fertilizer, we want to make sure you’re getting a full 50 pounds of fertilizer,” said Stephen Benjamin, director of the Standards Division.
To do this, measurement inspectors visit fertilizer plants and select a sample of bagged products to weigh. Using a certified scale, the inspectors verify that the sampled bags are within the maximum allowed variance. If errors are found, they are addressed and corrected before a shipment leaves the fertilizer packer. Even minor abnormalities can add up to enormous price differences for consumers and retailers.
Benjamin, who also serves as chairman of the National Conference on Weights and Measures, offers the following tips for consumers buying fertilizer, mulch or other items sold by weight this spring:
- Make sure you can see a customer indicator on the scale. The seller and buyer must be able to see the transaction.
- Make sure the indicator is at zero before anything is placed on the scale.
- If the product is placed in a bag or container, the scale should show a negative amount before weighing to account for the weight of the container.
- Make sure you are being charged the correct price per pound.
- Always double check your receipt.
- If you experience any problems, contact the Standards Division at 919-733-3313. The number can be found on scanners and scales at the register. You also can find the number on all gas pump across the state.
Today is the first day of National Weights and Measures Week. The dates celebrate state and local weights and measures inspectors who ensure a level playing field for consumers and businesses. Click on a photo below to learn more about other inspection areas covered by the department’s Standards Division.