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Give your customers what they pay for
Be a careful retailer
There are things you, as a store employee, can do to be sure you’re not overcharging your customers. Be aware of basic issues. There are a number of common mistakes that occur in the marketplace. By being a careful retailer, you can make sure these mistakes don’t cost your customers money. This brochure outlines several important tips to help you be a careful retailer. Pay attention to these tips and follow the three easy steps to smart selling, to be sure your customers are getting what they pay for.
Weigh items properly
Not taking the proper tare is the same as short changing your customers. It’s illegal and dangerous. It can lead to fines and loss of consumer confidence.
 

Determining tare
Weigh packaging material without any product. Include all packaging, lids, labels, twist ties, etc. If it doesn’t register on the scale, use the minimum scale division as tare.
 

What is Tare?
Tare is the weight of packaging material. It’s the weight of the plastic container used to package deli items, the plastic tray holding the cut of meat or filet of fish, or the paper bag bulk coffee beans are sold in. When you sell items by weight, the tare should be subtracted from the total weight. Customers should pay only for the weight of the product, not the container.
 

Can the weight of the package really make a difference?
Typically, a 0.04 pound coffee bag will cost a consumer 36 cents. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s 36 cents more than the customer should have paid. Errors add up quickly. Think of all the people who buy coffee every day!
 

But don't the stores and packers have to pay for the container?
Yes, they do. The cost of the container is part of the overhead costs stores must consider when setting the price per pound for an item. If the store does not subtract tare for an item, the customer is charged the same price per pound for the packaging as for the item, whether selling potato salad at $0.89 per pound or scallops at $10.99 per pound. The store certainly does not pay that much for the packaging. If tare weight is not subtracted from an item when calculating the selling price, not only are you charging more than you should for the packaging, each customer is paying a different amount for the same container. Is that fair?
 

How can I determine the tare?
The easiest way to determine the tare weight is to weigh the packaging material without any product in it. Include all parts of the packaging (lids, labels, twist ties, etc.). If the weight of the packaging material doesn’t register on the scale, tare still must be taken. It still weighs something. If the scale is not accurate enough to determine tare, use the minimum scale division as tare. For example, if the scale reads to the hundredth (0.00 lb) use a tare of 0.01 lb.
 

As a check out clerk, do I have to worry about tare?
Yes! Many bulk items have the tare programmed into the check stand computer and it is automatically subtracted when the product is weighed. Remember the computer only subtracts the tare for one item, so each item must be weighed separately.
 

Steps to smart selling
Step 1 - Watch the scale
  • Be sure the scale starts at zero or less.
  • If a scale reads +0.05 pounds before placing an item on it, the customer will be overcharged. 

Step 2 - Take tare
  • Take tare on all items sold by weight.
  • Take enough tare for the packaging used.
  • Weigh each item sperately. 

Step 3 - Correct errors
  • If you discover an error, inform management and make sure the problem is solved.
  • Ensure that the problem is solved for all customers, not just the ones you serve. 

More information
Introduction to weighing and measuring devices
Introduction to transaction verification
Are you giving your customer what they pay for? (pdf 83 kB) 
Measurement Standards Division
635 Capitol St NE
Salem OR 97301
Phone 503/986-4670
Fax 503/986-4784
Email msd-info@oda.state.or.us