Trading Standards investigation finds almost 10 per cent of Northern Ireland coal bags were under weight

An investigation by the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service (TSS) has found that short-weight bags of coal may be contributing to the cost-of-living crisis in Northern Ireland.

Over the past three months TSS officers visited 35 retail premises across Northern Ireland to check the weight of both 20kg and 25kg bags of coal to ensure consumers are getting what they pay for.

Coal inspections were conducted at retail premises in Belfast, Lisburn, Dungannon, Crumlin, Ballymena, Enniskillen, Newry, Dungannon, Derry and Strabane.

A total of 1,107 bags of coal were checked from various packers and officers found that 103 (9.3%) were short weight.

Trading Standards Service officers visited 35 retail premises across Northern Ireland to check the weight of both 20kg and 25kg bags of coal to ensure consumers are getting what they pay for.

With the average deficiency in each short weight bag being 1kg, this equates to consumer detriment of up to 87 pence per bag. The largest deficiency of 2.7kg was found in a 20kg bag resulting in a £2.37 detriment to the consumer.

Although the majority of bags did not cause concern, in total, the bags of coal from 10 different packers were found to be short weight. TSS has taken steps to advise those businesses responsible for placing the short-weight products on the market and will conduct further inspections in the coming months. Any trader found to be selling short-weight bags of coal may face enforcement action.

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.

"Measurement is at the heart of fair trading and is a core issue for TSS. 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.”

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If a consumer has a complaint about short-weight goods or wishes to seek advice on any other consumer related matter they should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or email: [email protected]