Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Case of Unintended Consequences

We all pay for gasoline by the gallon. But how do we know we’re actually getting a full gallon? Well, because that’s what the gas pump tells us.

And when we buy three pounds of bananas at the supermarket, how do we know we’re getting exactly three pounds? Because that’s what the scale at the checkout lane tells us.

Ah, but how do we know the gas pump and the scale are accurate? How do we know we’re actually getting what we are paying for?

Answer: We don’t.

In fact, in 2009, which is the last time records were kept, 15% of the scales checked were not accurate and customers – that means you and me – were being overcharged.

Today, here in Hawaii, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for periodic inspections to ensure the accuracy of gas pumps, grocery store scales and similar devices. And today, because of budget cuts, there is one person performing this task. One person.

Just wondering: What would happen if someone who rants and raves about too much government regulation discovered that he just paid $75 for a tank of gasoline that was really worth $69.50?

No comments: