Department of Weights and Measures tests gem show scales - Tucson News Now

Department of Weights and Measures tests gem show scales

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Department of Weights and Measures tested scales during the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase to make sure customers were getting what they paid for, and released information about how many scales were seized.

Agency officials focused their efforts on three hotels near the Tucson Convention Center.

In all, 80 vendors and 31 scales were audited at various locations. The department found 19 of the scales were unlicensed.

Thirteen were seized because they were not legal for trade, meaning they shouldn't have been used to buy and sell at the gem show.

Other scale violations included missing tamper proof seals and unsuitable installations such as one case with a home-made cardboard platter glued to the top.  One scale was found to be improperly calibrated (detrimental to the consumer) and placed out of service.  5 scales were discovered to be out of tolerance (detrimental to the vendor) and given a "30 day warning to correct."

In a statement Kevin Tyne, Director of the Department of Weights and Measures said, "In this tough economic climate it is imperative that the consumer get what they pay for in all aspects of commerce."

Ron Ratkevich, the owner of Tucson Mineral and Gem World was a regular customer at the gem, mineral and fossil show.  He said almost half the items in his store were purchased from vendors set up there.

He was glad to see someone watching out for his pocketbook.

"3,100 dealers show up.  It might seem like a drop in the bucket but if you get taken it's going to hurt you personally," said Ratkevich.

As a business owner Ratkevich said he knew honesty was key.  He had three scales set up in his business in the 2100 block of S. Kinney Road.

"There's always honest mistakes, something could go out of calibration.  We have inspectors coming in here all the time to check for things like that, and it's a good thing," said Ratkevich.

Piyush Patel, a gem show promoter organized four local shows that brought in about 400 vendors from all over the world.

Patel said he preferred to deal with vendors he had a history with, because he knew they were honest.  Honesty is something he took very seriously.

"We had a couple incidents a few years ago, and we let the person go away from there," said Patel.

Patel added that many vendors would prefer to get a heads up about inspections from the Department of Weights and Measures as most of the audits took place when they were extremely busy, but he understood the reason behind it.

"Most of the vendors are okay with it.  If something is wrong they fix it, and get back to work.  They don't want to cheat the people also.  If I do find out, and if they don't cooperate with us, they will not be a part of the show from next year," said Patel.

Officials with the Department of Weights and Measures said the violations did not necessarily mean customers were over-charged, even though the vendors were not using scales that complied with state laws.

This year, for the first time, the department set up a booth for the first two days of the show to help vendors in licensing their scales and answering customer questions. 

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