NCDA&CS inspectors make sure consumers get money's worth
Gummy bears or brownie bites, chocolate sauce or whipped cream, frozen yogurt shops allow customers to fill up a cup with frozen yogurt, top it as they please and then pay based on weight.
Inspectors from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are busy inspecting scales at these establishments to make sure customers are getting what they pay for. Customers are supposed to pay only for the weight of the contents of their filled cup, not the weight of the cup. The packaging weight is referred to as a tare weight, and it must be removed from the product weight.
"We urge consumers to be vigilant and check their receipt or ask the salesperson if the cost of the cup has been deducted from the sale," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Our job is to protect consumers, and one of the ways we do this is to make sure you pay only for product, not packaging. If you think you have been charged for the packaging weight or if a business is using a scale that has not been inspected, you can report this at 919-707-3225."
The NCDA&CS Standards Division inspects scales at retail stores that sell products to customers by weight.
These include grocery stores, coffee shops, buffet restaurants and candy stores. Point-of-sale commercial scales should be in view of customers and show a Standards Division seal of approval.
All retail establishments are required to notify the Standards Division after installing a scale. Inspectors make sure the scale is operating properly and that store employees know how to correctly set a tare weight to deduct the cost of packaging from the sale.
Standards Division inspectors are spread out across the state. "We are working with businesses to make sure they know the rules," said Stephen Benjamin, director.
"In the case of the frozen yogurt containers, it could add up to 40 cents per cup to the total price. That adds up if you are buying for a family of four."
If a store is found to be in violation, the first step is to educate business owners and make sure they and their employees know how to use the scale and how to set a tare weight. The second offense results in a notice of violation, and the third offense carries a civil penalty of up to $5,000.