Q. My family and I are going to the pumpkin patch this weekend. The family rule is that the pumpkin you choose can only be as heavy as you can carry out of the field yourself. My brother and I love to compete over whose pumpkin weighs the most and our pumpkins usually end up being very close in size and weight. How can we be sure that the scales that the farm uses to weigh our pumpkins are accurate?
A. When you buy pumpkins from folks who sell them by the pound, there are a few guidelines to follow. For instance, if the seller puts the pumpkin in a box first and then places it on the scale, the box weight must be deducted as the “tare” weight. This is the weight of a container or wrapper that is deducted from the gross weight to obtain net weight. If the pumpkin is placed on the scale, without any packaging, that is the actual weight and you should be charged accordingly.
Pennsylvania requires that any scales used for commerce (the buying and selling of goods) must be inspected for accuracy and then marked with a seal/sticker from the issuing department. In Bucks County, that is done by the Department of Weights and Measures, its main office located in Doylestown. In fact, consumers that notice scales being used that are not inspected can contact this department at (215) 348-7442.
If you would like to learn more about the Bucks County Weights and Measures Department, please visit us at www.buckscounty.org under “Consumer Protection” in the “Quick Links” section on the right hand side of the page.