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What Consumers Need to Know About Weights and Measures
The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Weights and Measures protects both businesses and consumers from losing money to improperly working measuring devices.
Weights and Measures inspectors test everything from deli scales and gas pumps to timed devices, such as air pumps and timed dryers. Our approval seal only goes on devices that pass our tests, which are conducted according to national standards.
If you have a complaint about nonworking or unsealed measuring devices or prices that ring up wrong at registers, contact the Division of Weights and Measures
For other types of consumer complaints about businesses, contact the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If my car has a 20-gallon gas tank and the gas pump says I got 22 gallons, is the pump wrong?
A: Probably not. When car manufacturers tell you the capacity of a model’s gas tank, it’s an approximation. A major manufacturer may buy fuel tanks from a variety of suppliers, so even tanks on the same models could vary. That said, if you believe you were short-changed at a gas pump, get the station’s name and the pump number (it should be on the receipt) and file a complaint with Weights and Measures.
Q: How often do inspectors test scales and check gas pumps?
A: Weights and Measures inspectors conduct device tests once a year. In addition to annual tests, inspectors retest devices in response to consumer complaints. Inspectors do not give businesses advance notice of tests. In 2017, Cuyahoga County Weights and Measures inspectors conducted more than 14,000 tests of devices -- and that figure doesn’t include devices in Cleveland, which has its own Weights and Measures office.
Q: How do I know if a seal is still valid?
A: A Weights and Measures seal lets consumers know that a measuring device has been tested and is operating correctly. Our seal is good for one full year after testing. (As an example, a seal put on a device in December 2018 would still be valid through December 2019.) Learn more about our seals.
Q: How do I know if a scale is legal for a store to use?
A: Our approval seal signifies that a scale is legal for trade and operating correctly. Scales used in retail sales to consumers must have an indicator placed so the consumer can see the product’s weight. They also must be NTEP approved, meaning that they meet strict national standards. Scales should be set at “0” before any product is placed on them. If you encounter a scale that doesn’t appear to work or doesn’t have our seal, file a complaint with Weights and Measures.
Q: What should I do if an item rings up at the wrong price?
A: Ask the cashier to do a price check. The store should have an employee go to the aisle or display where you found the item and get the correct price. Stores aren’t permitted to charge you more than the price listed on the shelf or signage. If you already left the store, call a manager. Most businesses correct pricing errors immediately, but if you were overcharged, save your receipt and file a complaint with Weights and Measures.
Q: When I buy products at the deli counter, am I paying for the container?
A: Stores are not permitted to include the weight of the container or packaging, called “tare,” when they calculate the net weight. The net weight shown on the label should reflect only the weight of the food alone.
Q: What is an octane rating and why is it important?
A: Octane ratings indicate a gasoline’s ability to resist ‘knock.’ A higher octane level isn’t always necessary. Check your vehicle owner's manual to find the manufacturer’s recommended octane level for your car. Learn more about octane ratings here.
Cuyahoga County does not test octane, but we do respond to complaints of water in gas and to reports of fuel mix-ups between gasoline and diesel. If you believe your car was affected by a delivery mixup, contact Weights and Measures immediately.
Q. Can you test the timed dryer at my apartment complex?
A. No. The Division of Weights and Measures only tests devices at businesses that sell products or services to the general public.
Q: Where can I file a complaint about a Cleveland gas station?
A: The City of Cleveland has its own Weights and Measures Bureau and tests all measuring devices inside Cleveland city limits. To reach Cleveland Weights and Measures, call (216) 664-2260. County Weights and Measures covers all suburbs in Cuyahoga County.
The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs, which enforces laws to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive sales practices, has jurisdiction across the entire county, including Cleveland. If you’re not sure where to file a complaint about a store or business, feel free to call Cuyahoga County Consumer Affairs at 216-443-7035 or ask us a question online.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.