Frequently Asked Questions

For Business Owners

Q. I am opening a business and need to know what, if any, weights and measures regulations will affect me?

A. Most businesses are to some degree affected by weights and measures laws. This will vary on the type of business. In general if you will be using any type of weighing and measuring device (scale, gas pump, meter) you will be directly affected. If you will be packaging commodities you will need to know packaging and labeling, and net quantity requirements.

Q. I'm going to buy a scale for my business. Where do I start?

A. Determine the method of sale for your product - will you be prepackaging commodities or selling directly to the customer over the scale? Then contact the Weights & Measures section for help in guiding you through the steps in selecting a suitable scale that meets all applicable laws.

Q. Can I use my scale or gas pump immediately after the service company installs it?

A. The device may be used commercially if our office is notified of the installation. You will be given permission to place the device into commercial service until a weights and measures official inspects the device.

Q. I want to make and sell homemade fudge at flea markets, do I have to put a label with the weight on it?

A. Yes, if the candy is pre-packaged prior to sale. Candy of this type must be sold by net weight, not by the "piece." The Weights & Measures program will be able to furnish you with detailed information on the labeling requirements for specific packaged commodities.

Q. How do I find someone to repair my weighing or measuring equipment (scale, gas pump, etc.)?

A. You may want to check the yellow pages in your area or search the Web under "scales repairing" “scale repair”. The Department registers service agencies involved in the installation, service, repair or reconditioning of commercial weighing and measuring devices in Maryland. Click on the link below to review the list of registered companies for scales and meters:

Registered Service Companies - Meters

Registered Service Companies - Scales

For Everyone

Q. What is a weighing and measuring device?

A. This is a term that we use to describe equipment or devices such as scales, gas pumps, or meters that weigh or measure commodities in the course of trade or business.

Q. I've seen orange square stickers on gas pumps. What are they for and why are they there?

A. The "stickers" you refer to are known as "Approval Seals". They are placed there by a weights and measures official after the gas pump has been tested and found to be accurate and in compliance with all weights and measures requirements. The seal is an indication that weights and measures officials are ensuring customers are getting the gas they are paying for. There are many other weighing and measuring devices (scales, home heating oil meters, propane meters) that are tested by weights and measures officials and are "sealed".

Who checks the weights used by state inspectors?

A. All weights and measures are certified by the state metrology laboratory. This lab is charged as the official keeper of the state standards. Periodically the state standards are sent to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be evaluated. Additionally, NIST sends standards to all the labs in the country for comparison tests.

Q. I want to make a complaint, but I don't want the business to know that I was the one who made it. What do I do?

A. You can make an anonymous complaint by clicking on the link below; then Submit the form.

Q. I filled my car up this morning at the service station. The road sign says Premium was $4.39 per gallon but I was charged $4.45. What can I do?

A. Contact the Comptroller of the Treasury at 410-260-7388. Their Investigative Services Unit deals with this type of problem and will take immediate steps to correct the situation.

Q. My vehicle owner's manual says the tank in my car only holds 14 gallons but I was able to put 15 1/2 gallons into it. What is wrong?

A. There may or may not be anything wrong, sometimes manufacturers change the size of the tank in a particular car and the owner’s manual is not updated. Check with the dealer. The gas tank rating listed in your owner’s manual lists a capacity that is the usable space of the tank. The usable space does not include the space within the filler pipe or the vapor head space in the tank that allows for expansion of product. When you combine the usable space and this additional space, the amount of product that can be put in the tank is greater than the tanks stated volume in the owner's manual. Report your concern to weights and measures by filling out this form.

Q. When I buy a package of meat in a supermarket do I pay for the plastic tray and the wrappings?

A. No. You should only be charged for the product you are purchasing. This is called "net weight". Anything in a package other than the actual product is called "tare," and it's weight must be deducted from the total weight of the package.

Q. I think some of the commodities I buy don't weigh what they say. Where do I complain?

A. Immediately contact the Weights & Measures program and explain the problems you are having, give the name of the business and the products you suspect are short weight. An inspector will conduct an inspection at the location and take action to correct any discrepancies that are found.

Q. I found out when I got home that I had been overcharged for several items at a local store. The store advertised prices that were lower than what the scanner charged me. What can I do?

A. First, contact the manager of the store with your receipts and give him a chance to correct the problem. Second, contact the Weights & Measures program who will inspect the store to determine the extent of the problem and take any necessary action to ensure accurate pricing.

Q. There is a store down the road that is using a scale with no state approval seal on it. How do I know it's right?

A. While the Weights & Measures program attempts to test and certify all devices on a routine basis, some devices are occasionally overlooked. Your call may alert us to the problem which will result in the device being tested, certified and sealed by a state inspector. The Weights & Measures approval seal is your assurance that the device is accurate and correct.

To find out more call 410-841-5790, or click on the links in the left column.

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