Preventing fraud at oil-change services and enabling consumers to make value comparisons when shopping for printer ink will be among the many issues discussed at this year's annual meeting of the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), to be held July 17-21 in Missoula, Mont. The meeting's theme, "Educating Today for Tomorrow," highlights the new certification program offered by the NCWM and promotes training to help weights and measures professionals keep pace with innovations in technology and marketing practices.
First convened by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1905, this annual meeting was among the earliest efforts to promote national uniformity in laws, regulations, methods and testing equipment for commercial weighing and measuring devices and other issues related to commerce and trade. Now in its 106th year, the conference has since matured into an independent, nonprofit entity, and membership has grown from 11 to more than 2,000. Conference goers typically include representatives from federal agencies, state and local weights and measures enforcement agencies as well as industry and trade associations.
NIST scientists sit on and provide technical guidance to a number of NCWM working groups. NIST also codifies resolutions passed by NCWM committees in regularly updated handbooks that contain procedural guidelines and model laws and regulations that state legislatures and regulatory agencies may consider for adoption, in whole or in part. Current editions of these NIST handbooks (44, 130 and 133) can be accessed online).
Attendees will discuss issues pertaining to labeling for printer ink and toner cartridges, price posting and computing capabilities at retail fuel pumps, regulation of engine oil sales at oil change services, and regulation of hydrogen fuel dispensers, as well as other matters.
With regard to printer ink and toner cartridges, the current industry practice is to estimate how many printed pages a cartridge will produce. However, this estimate pertains to printed text only. It does not factor in graphics or pictures. To help consumers make better value comparisons and to provide officials with a method for verifying net content, the NCWM will evaluate proposals to require labeling of printer inks in terms of volume or weight (ounces or grams).
Also with the aim of helping consumers, the NCWM will consider proposed model regulations that would require oil-change services to print the brand and type of oil dispensed on receipts as well as provide state regulators a means for verifying compliance. Investigations into consumer complaints resulted in the finding that these services sometimes commit fraud by charging customers for higher-priced grades or brands of oil after actually dispensing recycled oil, a lower-cost grade or generic brand.