Weights and Measures fees for businesses across the state could soon increase.
The most recent (2009-2011) state budget gives the Consumer Protection Department* the authority through the administrative rule process to increase fees for weights and measures inspections. Opponents insist the hikes are too high. Janet Jenkins says her agency simply wants to cover its costs; that’s all. “I can honestly say to you that these (fees) were based upon the calculations of what it cost to test a device, and again remind you that so many of these haven’t been changed in 13 years.”
Critics, including Michelle Kussow, Wisconsin Grocers Association, are upset with an annual weights and measures fee increase of up to 300-percent. “You know, if the price of milk went from $2.00 a gallon to $8.40 overnight there’d be mass hysteria.”
Testifying at an Assembly public hearing committee on Consumer Protection, Jenkins touts the significance of Weights and Measures. “If we can’t count on the fact that when it says on the gas pump that it’s given us a gallon but it hasn’t given us a gallon, or we go to the scanner and it scans out a certain price but on the shelf it was marked a different price, or any other kind of meter or weighing device, we would have havoc.”
The National Conference of Weights and Measures calculates that the average household saves about $600 each year by strong enforcement of Weights and Measures, for items such as gasoline, bulk food, or even medication. Jenkins says, along with over-charges, inspectors also find UNDER-charges.
In 2009, state weights and measures inspectors conducted 178,844 inspections.
NOTE: Call Weights and Measures (1-800-422-7128) to file a complaint if you encounter scanning errors, incorrect weights, or incorrect gas pump readings.
*Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)