Detecting a Tampered Measuring Instruments

September 22, 2014

Part IV

Use of measuring instruments is very important for effective functioning of any economy. It plays a vital role in protecting consumers from malpractice of underweight or under measured goods.

All weighing equipment in use for trade must be suitable for its intended purpose and be accurate. Or else, consumers will not get value for their money.

However, for many of us who are not experts, it will be difficult to detect a weighing machine which is defective or has been tampered with.

Last week, the Council highlighted that weighing instruments are checked by the inspectors from the Department of National Trade Measurement and Standards. The Department places stamps which have the day, month and year for the inspection. The stamps further contain security seals which certifies the correctness and validity of such machines.

The security seal which is also known as the “tamper proof seal” is pasted on the screws at the bottom part of the machine which prevents any tampering of the weighing machine.

A person peeling off the seal with the intention to tamper the weighing scale can be identified as follows:

  • Firstly, if the security seal has been peeled or scraped off then the person intending to alter the machine will try to open it up. In doing so, they will then have to break a “sealing led” with a crown stamp on it placed by the inspectors from the Department of National Trade Measurement and Standards.

Without breaking this seal, no one can alter the machine.

If the person is successful in breaking the seal, they will later try to reseal the machine. However, consumers must be able to recognize the “sealing led” with crown stamp machine which is only available with the inspectors from Department of National Trade Measurement and Standards

  • Secondly, once the seal has been removed, resealing will show the words “void” indicating that the seal had been removed at one point in time.

If consumers reasonably believe that the weighing scale is not giving an accurate reading then they should check out the sealing led – to see if it shows “Void”.

Consumers must also know that the colour of sealing led with the crown stamp varies within Fiji.

In the central/eastern division orange colour sealing led with the crown stamp is used while red is used in western division and blue being used in the northern division.

It is expected that due to wear and tear, any weighing machines need upgrading and repair work from time to time. Once the machines are fixed, the traders must get the machines re-stamped and sealed by the inspectors. No weighing instruments can be used without proper inspections and seal/stamp.

Regular inspection of weighing instruments will detect the unscrupulous traders involved in cheating members of the public by selling underweight items. An example of this is bread, which has been reported in the media lately.

Consumers who use weighing scales are advised to take note of the stamp. If they cannot locate it due to peeling-off of over worn stamps, they can always request the trader to see the tamper proof seal. If in doubt, the consumers can always report the matter to the Department of National Trade Measurement and Standardsor the Council.

Traders must do the right thing by ensuring their weighing scales are inspected by the inspectors at least once in a year. Moreover, they should not attempt to tamper with it.

Consumers, on the other hand, must be conscious and assertive in asking questions if they verily believe that the weighing scale is not giving correct weight.