Your rights when buying goods by weight or measure
As a purchaser of goods that are sold by quantity (weight, measure or number), you have rights under the Weights and Measures Act and Regulations.
Weight of the packaging must be excluded
Goods bought by weight or measure must be sold to you by net weight or measure. This means that the weight of any packaging must be excluded from the quantity statement.
Units of measurement
All goods must be sold in metric units — such as grams, kilograms, millilitres, litres, metres.
Goods weighed at time of sale
Goods weighed, measured or counted at the time of sale must be done so in front of you, and you must be able to see the whole operation.
Most modern weighing instruments have a tare button. This should be used to zero the weight of the packaging or container before the goods are weighed.
Roadside and market stalls
The same rules apply if you buy from a roadside or market stall. If the goods are weighed in front of you, it's worth checking that the scales the trader is using are suitable and that you can see the weight display.
Buying pre-packed goods
Generally, packaged goods that are marked with their quantity must contain the amount stated on the package.
For pre-packed goods of the same kind and stated quantity — for example, 500g packs of butter — this means they must meet the 'average quantity system' rules. These rules set out strict specifications that packers must abide by to control the quantity of pre-packaged goods. It's possible to have a few pre-packed goods containing slightly less than the stated amount, but on average across a production run the stated quantity must be correct.
Trading Standards Officers carry out random checks on packers, importers and retailers. This gives you greater assurance that you'll receive packaged goods that comply with the legislation.
Other pre-packed goods of variable quantity such as joints of meat, and non pre-packed goods, must contain at least the stated quantity. The statement of quantity should be on a label.
Buying firewood by volume
Firewood may be sold to you either by volume (eg, 3 cubic metres) or by description (eg, a truckload, trailer load or sackful).
If you buy firewood by volume, check whether the truck and/or measure has been approved by Trading Standards. If it has, it should have a sign stating its size — eg, "3 cubic metres" or "3m3".
The truck and/or measure should also either have:
- a stamped lead plug with a crown on it, or
- a Certificate of Approval carried in the vehicle at all times.
The seller should provide you with a written invoice or delivery notice that shows the quantity delivered.
We can advise you which traders in your area have a certificate of approval for their truck and/or measure.
Firewood is generally sold as a 'thrown measure', rather than stacked, unless stated otherwise.
See Firewood sold by measure for more information about trader obligations when selling firewood.
Buying coal by weight
Coal (or coke or carbonettes) must be weighed before sale — unless you're filling your own bags or trailer.
Coal can be sold in sacks, or bags, or loose. If it's sold:
- in a closed bag, the weight must be shown on the bag itself, or on an invoice or delivery note
- in open bags, the seller must provide a written notice showing the net weight of each bag and the number of bags delivered, or the total weight of the bags delivered
- loose, the driver of the vehicle that delivers the coal must give you a written invoice or delivery notice that shows the quantity delivered.
Buying garden and landscape supplies
Garden and landscape supplies may be sold to you by weight or measure, by number, or by description (eg, a scoop or truckload).
See Selling gardening and landscape supplies for more information.
Consumer Guarantees Act rights
If you have a problem with a service or a product that you've paid for, you may also have certain rights to remedy under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). The Consumer Protection website has more information about your rights under the CGA.
Making a complaint
If you have a complaint about a product sold by weight, measure or number, you can let us know using our complaint form.