‘Money for Money’s Worth?’ - £Billions worth of consumer spending underpinned by the work of Trading Standards in Scotland
One of Scotland’s basic consumer rights is the right to buy goods, and for those goods to be fairly and accurately weighed or measured by the seller. Local council Trading Standards services provide confidence in the long-established UK system of measurement that is the most basic and essential element in any transaction – money for money’s worth.
One of the most invisible systems of consumer protection is weights and measures, and the laws apply to almost all goods that are sold, ranging from foodstuffs, to petrol and alcohol, and even household furnishings whether by capacity, weight, or length. Even medical weighing is included so that correct amounts of medicine can be administered at hospitals and health centres. A 2014/15 national project found a non-compliance rate of 23%, with equipment being found unsuitable for patient weighing requirements. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/medical-weighing-project2014-to-2015-final-report
Trading Standards Officers check local equipment to ensure that accuracy is maintained, and large capacity equipment such as weighbridges up to 50 tonne capacity are also checked, protecting business as well as consumers. As an example of the value of this small area of the work, there are around 1200 weighbridges in Scotland in use for trade with an estimated 8 million weighings a year across the country. Accuracy of equipment ensures confidence business to business, for import/export, and even for landfill tax! Baggage weighers at airports are also checked to make sure consumers’ holidays are not spoiled by overcharging by airlines.
Appended below are a selection of examples of short weight prepacked food found during a recent supermarket project. Consumers being ripped off by even smallish amounts per transaction, does lead to huge amounts of financial consumer detriment when aggregated across Scotland, and significant extra profit for business.
SCOTSS Chair and Trading Standards Manager for Dumfries & Galloway Council, Sandra Harkness said: “Weights and Measures is the earliest form of consumer protection, and it is disappointing in this age of technology that consumers are still losing out when businesses do not take sufficient care when weighing or measuring goods. Trading Standards Officers across Scotland are happy to advise and educate business but will take enforcement action where consumers are being ripped off.”
Scottish TS Week takes place 16-20 September 2019. Follow @socotss on Twitter for full updates and follow #ScottishTSweek2019 for updates from across Scotland. www.tradingstandards.scot
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- The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) represents the 31 local authority Trading Standards services in Scotland. SCOTSS was established in 1996 and helps support and coordinate the activities of Scotland local authority trading standards teams. It is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation SC047951 and works closely with other governmental and regulatory organisations, such as the Competition & Markets Authority, and
- Trading Standards Officers in Scottish councils advise on and enforce laws that govern the way we buy, sell, rent and hire goods and services. Local authorities carry out inspections and monitor or investigate complaints, they work with businesses to help achieve compliance but ultimately, can instigate prosecutions against those who break the law.
- Weights and Measures activities are being carried out all week across Scotland, from petrol forecourt checks, to heavy weighbridge checks in Aberdeen. Many councils are offering free weighings to consumers, contact your local council to find out.
- Anyone with information about shops selling short measure can report it anonymously through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 www.consumeradvice.scot or to their local Trading Standards authority https://www.tradingstandards.uk/consumers/support-advice
Shortweight examples and photos available on the SCOTSS website.