The Department of Weights and Measures inspect packaged commodities to ensure they contain the proper amount and have the correct labeling. This program also investigates deceptive packaging, makes test purchases to ensure compliance and checks the accuracy of price scanners. California enforces regulation of uniform standards for packaging and labeling developed by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), an organization of weights and measures officials and industry. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sponsors NCWM for "cooperation with the states in securing uniformity in weights and measures laws and methods of inspection."
Inspectors routinely conduct package inspections to verify net content statements on commodities at both retail and wholesale levels. Scanners have become an indispensable tool in most stores today so many package inspections also include a price verification inspection to see if the advertised prices match the actual prices. Staff also conducts investigations of consumer complaints and recommends administrative or civil action for chronic or blatant violations of the Fair Package and Labeling Act.
Bar code readers, scanners, and price look-up systems have replaced individual prices on items. Price verification consists of periodic simulated purchases at businesses utilizing scanners, or point-of- sale systems, to ensure that consumers are correctly charged. This area has become more important because many or all stores of national chains determine their pricing through a central computer; an error in one store is an error in them all. Items offered on sale are most frequently found to be in error, and the consumer must always be given the item at the lowest posted price.