An investigation by the Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service (TSS) has revealed that almost one in 10 bags of coal contained less than described, leaving consumers out of pocket in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.
Over the past three months officers visited 35 retail premises across Northern Ireland to check the weight of 20kg and 25kg bags of coal. A total of 1,107 bags of coal were checked from various packers and 103 (9.3%) were found to be short weight.
The average deficiency in each short weight bag was 1kg, equating to consumer detriment of up to 87p per bag. The largest deficiency of 2.7kg was found in a 20kg bag, resulting in a £2.37 detriment to the consumer.
Judith Gough, Deputy Chief Trading Standards Inspector, said: “Given the growing demand for coal across Northern Ireland and the continuing cost-of-living crisis, it is imperative that consumers do not get short changed. Many households on low incomes who have no alternative heating source will be alarmed to hear that almost one in ten bags of coal inspected by TSS were short weight.”
The Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service has advised those businesses responsible for placing the short-weight products on the market about their responsibilities under the law, and will conduct further inspections in the coming months. Any trader found to be selling short-weight bags of coal may face enforcement action.
“Measurement is at the heart of fair trading and is a core issue for TSS,” Gough added. “These inspections help to ensure that businesses are weighing and measuring accurately, and consumers are getting the right quantity of goods. With the current cost-of-living crisis, it is even more important that the processes and systems that should be in place are working properly, and consumers are getting what they pay for. TSS will continue to work closely with coal packers across the country to make sure that any issues of short weight are eradicated.”