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Another seasonal winter fuel issue is firewood. Although home deliveries donít involve a meter, many of the same requirements for a measurable transaction are in place. (Phil Bullock/The Observer)
As temperatures begin to turn a bit colder this fall, Oregonians will start heating their homes with natural gas, heating oil, propane, and even firewood.
With the cost of fuel these days, it is important for consumers to get exactly what they pay for, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture is in the business of assuring accuracy in commercial transactions.
“Oregonians need to be aware, before the purchase, of how much product they are getting and what they are going to pay,” says Jason Barber, ODA Director of Internal Service and Consumer Protection Programs. Inspectors with the Weights and Measures Program enforce Oregon laws requiring accurate representations of quantity, often investigating consumer complaints regarding fuel delivery.
As in all consumer purchases, it’s a good idea for buyers to take an interest in the transaction and be aware. With fuel deliveries, there are a couple of ways to help ensure you get what you pay for.
“ODA requires that those types of fuels be metered from licensed devices,” said Josh Nelson, field supervisor for the Weights and Measures Program. “We have standards for how accurate those meters need to be.”
Meters located on delivery trucks are routinely inspected by ODA. There are security seals placed on the meter’s adjustment mechanisms. Consumers can look for an ODA approval seal found on the meter to assure that the device has been tested and approved.
“Consumers can also look for information on their receipt indicating the business name, the total gallons delivered, and the price charged to ensure it matches with what is indicated on the meter,” Nelson said. Printed delivery tickets are mandatory in Oregon and are to be left with the customer at the time of delivery or as specified by the customer.
Consumers who have a long established history and trust with the seller probably won’t have any concerns or problems with the fuel delivery. However, if you are dealing with a company for the first time or have any questions, you have the right to be on-site and observe the fuel delivery.
“One of the most effective ways to prevent a problem is to be present when a transaction occurs and just being observant,” Nelson said. “The meter on the truck should be visible to the buyer. It’s a good idea to be present when that first delivery is made and to look at the meter — just like you would when filling up your motor vehicle’s tank at a gas station.”
Another seasonal winter fuel issue is firewood. Although home deliveries don’t involve a meter, many of the same requirements for a measurable transaction are in place. The only legal method to sell firewood is by the cord, which is a unit of measurement that is 128 cubic feet normally determined by a stack of wood when the pieces are all laid parallel in a compact, consistent manner.
“To purchase firewood, look for a reputable source — someone with an established track record of providing firewood,” Nelson said. “There are a lot of fly-by-night operators that are just loading a trailer with a pile of wood, dumping it off and calling it a cord.”