Does a Parking Meter Really Give you an Hour for 25 Cents?

Ever wonder if the timing of those Main Street parking meters is accurate? The Department of Weight & Measures assures it.

John DeVito is a man concerned about the measure of all things. Well, at least for things people pay for.

For example, did you ever wonder if that scale in the supermarket or that parking meter on Main Street was accurate? That’s DeVito’s job.

He’s a Deputy Sealer for the county’s Department of Consumer Protection, Weights & Measures with offices at 50 N. Main St. in Doylestown.

On Thursday, he was checking the scale at Donegal Jewelers. He also checks the scales of jewelers in Warrington, Plumstead and up through Quakertown, where new shops that buy gold and other precious metals have opened recently.

With gold at more than $1,600 an ounce, it’s important that the scales be accurate for consumers who are selling.

Why is this important? Here are three examples the department gives:

  •  If a piece of meat selling for $4.98 a pound has an error in weighing of just one ounce, the error will cost someone 31 cents before the package even leaves the store.
  • A scale that is incorrect by one ounce on each weighing, making 100 weighings a day over a period of 300 days a year at a unit price of $2.00 a pound will add up to an error of $3,750 a year!
  • An error of three tablespoons in five gallons on a gasoline pump will result in an error of thousands of dollars a year at today’s average pump volumes.

DeVito also checks supermarket scales and UPC scanners, gas pumps, the timing of dryers in laundromats and parking meters along the street. He said he had certified all the meters for the borough.

The department has three “sealers” for the county. To “seal,” according to department guidelines, means “to put a lock of sorts on the adjusting mechanism of a device after the item has been inspected and found accurate. “Sealing” prevents an unscrupulous vendor from changing the calibration of a device. An external two-inch round vinyl seal is also placed on each device to inform customers that an accuracy check was performed during a certain month and year.”

Next time you’re weighing that organic produce or pic ’n’ mix, look for the seal, and then you can tell someone else what it means.


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