Weights & Measures
Packaged Commodity Inspection: Consumer packages are periodically inspected to ensure they contain the proper amount and have the correct labeling.
Store scanner systems data is verified both for regularly-priced and sale items. This area is becoming increasingly important as most stores switch to electronic pricing systems.
Labeling & Deceptive Packaging
Packaging and package labeling must meet certain criteria that insures that the package is not perceived as containing more than it actually does and that the labeling information is clearly understood. An important aspect of this area is to insure that a package is of a certain size needed to contain and showcase the product and not deliberately designed simply to deny shelf space to competitor's products.
Inspections are annually performed on scales ranging in size from very precise jewelry scales to large capacity scales capable of weighing up to 120,000 pounds.
Gasoline and diesel pumps are primarily tested to ensure that they are volumetrically correct. Kerosene and a few other liquids when sold through a retail meter are also tested.
Taxi Meter Inspection
This area of inspection is fast-becoming a major program for the division with the increasing urbanization of Contra Costa County. Taxi's must have their meters tested and sealed annually. All rates and conditions must be clearly posted in the cab.
Utility Submeter and Billing Inspection
This is an important program to both the residents and managers/owners of many mobile home parks and some apartment complexes. At present this program consists of water meter and electric meter inspections when the tenants are not billed directly by a serving utility such as PG&E but instead are billed from meters belonging to the complex or park. We hope, in the not too distant future, to have the facilities to be able to inspect gas meters also.
Additional meters which are inspected include rope and wire meters and large capacity liquid measuring meters. Drinking water dispensers are verified for accuracy on a complaint basis. With a recent change in state law, counties may inspect parking meters for accuracy. This county will perform parking meter inspections on a complaint basis.
The county division, in partnership with the California Division of Measurement Standards, inspects motor fuel for quality, proper octane, and contamination. The quality of other products such as brake fluid, motor oil, and anti-freeze is also checked. Product labeling, fuel dispenser labeling, and gasoline price signs are regulated.
Many materials ranging from concrete to agricultural commodities are sold in large bulk quantities. These products are sold or bought by certified weights. This program both prescribes the manner in which many of these commodities are sold and the method by which records of the quantities are recorded and maintained. The company which ascertains the quantity must be licensed by the California Division of Measurement Standards as a Weighmaster, thus assuring an accurate measurement.
The first priority of the division is to investigate consumer complaints if someone feels that they have been overcharged or the quantity of a product that they have purchased is misrepresented in some way, or the motor fuel they have bought is contaminated by water or particulate matter. Consumers have often brought a problem to the attention of the division which has lead to the prosecution of companies for overcharging or inaccurate weighing or measuring practices.