GNBS’ APPROVAL OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES OBLIGATORY
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SELLERS in the markets and shops, over the centuries, have been known to exploit consumers by giving them less than the correct weights and measurements of the goods purchased and this form of theft has been forbidden in the ethical codes of all religions.

Governments have tried by various means to control this abuse by sellers and to protect the consumers.  In Guyana, this responsibility has been entrusted to the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS).  The GNBS administers the Weights and Measures Act and addresses matters such as the imperial and metric systems of measurements and the accuracy of the mechanisms used for measurements.  The most popular of such mechanisms are scales.

The GNBS is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the scales used by sellers are accurate and accordingly, sellers, by law, have to register their scales with the GNBS who calibrates them.  Unfortunately, the GNBS, like most such enforcing bodies worldwide, does not have enough resources to ensure the consumers are protected in all circumstances.  For example, a seller may have two scales, a GNBS registered one and one which is doctored to short weight the buyer.  When the GNBS inspector visits his establishment, the seller would produce the registered scale.  But there are other kinds of subterfuges.

Recently, for example, the GNBS issued an advisory to vendors, shopkeepers and other retailers to discontinue their use of unregistered dial scales.  These dial scales which many retailers have taken to using were designed for domestic use and their mechanisms are easily damaged from continuous and commercial usage and a damaged scale would inevitably short weight the purchaser.

In the final analysis, it should always be kept in mind that the consumer or purchaser has to make the necessary effort to ensure that he receives value for money.  In the first place, purchasers should immediately examine the goods purchased and this will give him a good idea if the goods purchased are of correct weights/measures.  If there is suspicion that there is a short measurement, the purchaser must challenge immediately.  Or one could challenge the scale the seller is using and demand to see the GNBS’s stamp. In the markets, if a seller has his goods at inordinately cheap prices, then it is quite likely his scales have been doctored or the goods are expired.  The buyer could take his complaint directly to the GNBS since they are entrusted with the supervision of the country’s weights and measures.  In the alternative, he may contact the Guyana Consumers Association, the Competition and Consumers Commission or the Consumer Division of the Ministry of Business headed by Ms Cheryl Tinnis.

Over the years, the GNBS has been urging vendors and other retailers to use the recommended metric devices and these include the metric red equal arm scales, the metric platform scales, electronic scales or the dial salter scales which have been approved by GNBS.

Metric scales are a security for the future since, by law, the weights and measures of Guyana are already metric and it is only a matter of time before the law is enforced.  Use of metric measurements has become imperative, not merely because they are more convenient and efficient, but because Guyana, with its oil resources, is fast-moving on to the international stage which has already gone metric.

Use of accurate metric measurements would also be insurance for the survival of vendors and retailers, since, except they could hold the trust of purchasers, customers will go to the supermarkets where the measurements are generally accurate.

It would therefore be in the long term interests of retailers and customers as well to use accurate scales stamped by GNBS.

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