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NSAI Protecting the Consumer

Monday, November 7, 2011.  In an action taken by NSAI’s Legal Metrology Service (LMS), a Dublin service station, trading as One Oil, this morning pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to 12 charges for breaches of the Metrology Act, 1996.  This legislation obliges the user of a measuring instrument used in trade, to ensure that it conforms to an approved design, is accurate and is secured against unauthorised or fraudulent adjustment. 
The petrol station pleaded guilty to offences in respect of the use of an unverified instrument and short measure on sale of motor fuel  under Sections 13 and 28 of the Act, respectively.

The trader was fined €14,000 under Section 33 (Penalties) of the Metrology Act.  A person found guilty of an offence under this Act shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €4,000 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment, and to forfeiture of the goods and instruments.

NSAI received a number of complaints from consumers about the petrol station and in August 2010, LMS inspectors visited the station, located on Ushers Quay in Dublin, to inspect the premises and verify instrument compliance.  
A significant number of non-compliance issues were uncovered and reported to the garage owners, who were instructed to immediately rectify the non-compliances.  However, in response to further complaints from members of the public in February 2011, LMS inspectors revisited the premises and discovered that the previously verified and rectified fuel pumps had broken seals and were significantly under measuring petrol and diesel being sold to consumers.  Upon considering the facts, the Director of Legal Metrology proceeded to prosecute.

Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) said, “This successful prosecution in the service station sector underscores the important work of LMS in helping to protect consumers from unscrupulous traders. During 2010, inspectors from NSAI’s Legal Metrology Service visited almost 4,000 trader’s premises and tested more than 17,000 measuring instruments used in trade, such as supermarket weighing scales, taxi meters where the correct charge or cost to consumers is dependent on accurate quantity measurement.  We are not in the business of putting people out of business, but prosecuting persistently non-compliant traders is as important as ever to protecting consumers.”

In addition, almost 8,000 fuel pumps at 1,300 service stations were also inspected in 2010.  More than 2,000 warnings, which require corrective action such as minor adjustments or recalibration of equipment, were issued to traders.  There were also 13 prosecutions taken for non-compliance, where a trader did not take appropriate corrective action following a warning, with 10 of these resulting in conviction.  Each of those prosecutions was related to non-compliant taxi meters.

Pat Farragher, Director, LMS, said, “Through  our enforcement of Metrology legislation, NSAI’s LMS aims to encourage high measurement compliance in trading transactions, thus ensuring confidence by consumers in the quantities of goods they purchase, while at the same time supporting a fair and competitive environment for businesses through the maintenance of consistent standards for measurement.  The level of warnings and prosecutions underlines the effectiveness of the compliance culture within the economy underpinned by LMS inspections.”
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For further information contact:

Legal Metrology Service,
NSAI, 1 Swift Square,
Northwood, Santry,
Dublin 9, Ireland

T: +353 (0)1 807 3800
F: +353 (0)1 807 3808