Many businesses use a scale during the normal course of their business practice. Sometimes, it is for weighing packages to determine the correct amount of postage, sometimes it is for weighing out goods that are sold by the pound. Regardless of the specific application, if your business uses a scale to determine how much to charge a customer, you almost certainly need to use an NTEP certified scale.
NTEP or the National Type Evaluation Program is administered by the National Conference on Weights and Measures. This organization tests scales supplied by manufacturers to make sure that they provide accurate results in order to ensure customers that they are paying the correct amount for goods and services for which the price is related to weight. This includes things like cheese from the deli counter, postage, fresh produce from the grocer, and many more commonly purchased items.
The goal of a certifying standards body is to give customers the confidence that when they ask for and pay for a pound of goods, they actually receive one pound of goods. Before the existence of standards bodies such as NTEP, it was not unusual for the scales of different merchants to have significant differences when weighing the same items. Not surprisingly, errors generally favored the merchant.
Freight companies, delicatessens, grocery stores, postal couriers, and every business where weight is involved in determining the rate or price for goods or services should be using an NTEP certified scale. Specific regulations are determined by each state so check with your state government for your specific case. Typical kitchen or bathroom scales purchased at retail stores are seldom NTEP certified. For certified scales, business owners will usually need to find a supplier specializing in business equipment. This may be an offline business supply store or an online source. Often an online source will have a greater selection of prices and features from which the small business owner can choose.
Penalties for using non-certified scales in a business operation vary from state to state, but can be quite severe depending upon the state and the specifics of the violation. For the few extra dollars it takes to make sure the scale you purchase is NTEP certified, there is no reason to risk a violation. It’s not a matter of whether your customers trust your weights, but a matter of obeying the law.
But before you call the authorities on your competitor, be aware that because of a Mutual Recognition Agreement between the US and Canada, scales certified by Measurement Canada are also recognized in the USA, just as NTEP certified scales are recognized in Canada.