December 26, 2009
Buyers are urged to shop smart for firewood
Director of weights and measures says he gets complaints about deliveries being short
With an increased demand for replacing oil with wood for heating purposes, Cortland County Weights and Measures Director Carl Moses says consumers have recourse if the amount delivered falls short.
Moses said if a person orders firewood over the phone from an advertiser and the amount delivered is less that what was ordered, the customer should call his department immediately so the problem can be resolved on the spot.
Solving it after the deliverer leaves is more difficult, he said.
Moses said he gets one or two complaints a year regarding a firewood delivery being short. He does not consider it a problem in Cortland County.
“If it was rampant around here, I’d know about it — it’s not,” Moses said.
He said the shortchanging is most often a mistake and nothing dishonest from the businesses.
Moses said a complainant this year claimed he ordered 10 cords of wood, but when stacked after delivery it only measured six cords.
Wood is mostly sold by the face cord, Moses said, which carries an average depth of about 16 inches when stacked and is 4 feet high and 8 feet long. The wood can sell for about $50 a cord, he said.
Deliverers are required to give customers a receipt specifically listing the wood ordered and delivered and when it was seasoned, Moses said. A common factor of most complaints is that a person learns the wood was short once they stack it and after the deliverer has left, he said.
The best way to avoid potential confusion is to call the county Weights and Measures Department and have a representative inspect the delivered wood when it arrives and have the deliverer stack it, Moses said. He said this helps avoid the customer receiving less than they ordered, as well as the deliverer being ripped off by a potentially false claim.
He said most wood sellers advertise in the newspaper and orders can be placed over the phone or a customer can make a purchase on site after viewing the wood.
Moses said the Weights and Measures Department can levy fines of up to $600 if a wood deliverer shorts a customer. For each violation after that, fines can reach up to $1,200.
Before buying wood for heating, it is best to ask others who do the same to get a recommendation of who to get it from, Moses said.
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