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San Diego County Weights and Measures inspectors routinely conduct undercover tests at retail locations to verify the scales and weighing devices are being properly used. Stock photo
Community CommentaryOpinion

Stephan: Are you overpaying for a bag of apples?

How do you know when you buy that bag of apples that it really has the pound of fruit that is advertised on the package? With prices of everyday essentials going up, getting the weight and price right is more important than ever to San Diego consumers.

The San Diego District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit helps protect our communities by ensuring retailers charge consumers the correct price for the amount of packaged food they buy. 

The good news is most retailers follow the rules and provide consumers with the accurate amount of food as advertised, but for those who cut corners, we want you to know the law. 

Retailers must indicate on the package label the net weight of the food, by law. That means that the weight of the wrapping or container is excluded. San Diego County Weights and Measures inspectors routinely conduct undercover tests at retail locations to verify the scales and weighing devices are being properly used and that the packages contain the correct amount of weight.

In addition, inspectors also make sure your favorite self-serve yogurt shops, recyclers and bulk firewood stores are also using accurate scales and weights. 

The same goes for price accuracy. It is against the law for businesses to charge customers higher prices than its lowest advertised price for items. We recommend shoppers pay attention as their items are being scanned at the register and check receipts to verify that they are being charged the posted sale price.

If the weight or price is not accurate, the retailer in question will be notified of the violation and may be fined. For retailers who are caught repeatedly overcharging, Weights and Measures asks the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit to prosecute those companies. 

If you believe a retailer is selling less than the advertised weight, the San Diego County Weights and Measures Department asks that you provide them with the following information: 

• Business name, address, and city

• Date and time of occurrence

• Brand name, product or items

• Quantity purchased or sold

If you have been charged more than the advertised sale price or for the inaccurate weight of your item, consumers may report the discrepancies online to Weights and Measures by using the general consumer complaint form on the County website, by calling 1-888-TRUE-SCAN (878-3722) or through e-mail [email protected]. 

To report a consumer complaint, you can call (619) 531-3507 or email [email protected].

Summer Stephan is district attorney of San Diego County.

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