Are you getting exactly what you’re paying for at the register?

Posted at 12:00 AM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 18:30:40-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - When you fill up your gas tank or buy groceries at the deli, how do you know you are getting the exact amount that you're paying for?

News 3 looked into exactly what the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agency does to protect you.

Weight and measurement regulations date back to 1799 when John Adams signed them into law.

Each state is required to set standards to make sure people are getting what they pay for – whether it’s a gallon of gas, a pound of lunch meat or the same price at the checkout scanner listed on the shelf, according to state officials.

“Our goal is to protect the consumer and the seller,” said Joel Maddux, the Program Manager for the Office of Weights and Measures. He gave News 3 exclusive access to how they do their job at a BP gas station on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach.

One of the 24 inspectors in the state of Virginia showed us how they test the accuracy of the pumps and sample the motor fuels. They said in 2018 in the state of Virginia, inspectors checked 60,000 prices that were scanned at checkouts. They said the team verified the weight of more than 16,000 wrapped packages and say they tested more than 87,000 devices.

Related: Grocery wars: How new competitors coming to Hampton Roads could change things

Inspectors rejected 19,000 devices.

“Customers will actually see a big red sticker on anything that says rejection or condemnation,” said Maddux. If a device is rejected, the business can still operate normally. They say they just need to fix the issue.

There were 44 business on the list that were fined, and three of the businesses are located in Hampton Roads.

“It’s a rare occasion, but it does happen,” said Maddux.

He said the ultimate goal is to create a level playing field and to prevent unfair competition in the marketplace.

The team said they investigated 520 consumer complaints last year. They encourage people to call them to report potential inaccuracies.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that there are people like our Weights and Measures Inspectors who are out there protecting them and looking out for them when they’re conducting business in the Commonwealth,” said Maddux.