When Marc Paquette pumps gas, it's usually not into his car. Instead, it's into a bucket that measures whether you're getting what you pay for at the pump.
"Usually the pumps are fairly accurate, but sometimes there are times when you a find a pump that's inaccurate one way or the other," Paquette said.
For the past 24 years, Paquette has worked on the Weights and Measures Consumer Protection Team at the Agency of Agriculture.
"So many things are based on being purchased by weights or measured," he said.
The group tests everything from grocery store scales to recycling station scales to store checkout scanners.
"It's vital to keep equity in the marketplace to make sure there's consistency, uniformity and traceability with all of these things the industry does," Paquette said.
To test accuracy, you have to be very accurate. All the equipment used in the field has to be tested in the agency's laboratory.
"A weights and measures lab provides traceability through a series of tests to make sure the equipment is accurate and correct," Paquette said.
The lab itself was tested two years ago during Tropical Storm Irene.
"When we went in, some of the things we found-- like all of the standards had been submerged, most of the lab had been destroyed," Paquette said.
The new lab is now in Berlin. The seven inspectors in the field were all able to keep working during the upheaval because they travel with their equipment and only need to calibrate their gear at the main lab once a year.
Making sure you get what you pay for-- just look for the state inspection sticker to know if the state has checked for accuracy.
Weights and Measures has been a part of the Agriculture Agency since the 1930s. That's because the first things ever bought and sold were agricultural products.
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:57 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:57:59 GMT
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