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This evening I went to a local grocery store, bringing along my reusable mesh produce bags. When I went to check out, the cashier said I had to remove the items from the bags before she could weigh them because they were not the standard plastic bags, that she would be violating regulations by the dept. of weights and measures, and that she could be held personally liable, etc. I told her that I certainly didn't want her to do anything she felt was illegal, but if that was her choice then I wouldn't purchase the mesh-bagged items (largely because one of the bags was holding a bunch of walnuts and I was in kind of a hurry). She ended up calling the manager who told her to go ahead and ring up the nuts, but the cashier was clearly upset about doing so.
I really didn't have time to further pursue the matter with the manager, but when I do I'd like to go in armed with information. I don't know if this is a case of the cashier being misinformed, or if most vendors don't know or choose to ignore regulations, or if there are ways to comply with the regulations without using standard issue plastic. I went to the LA County Office of Weights and Measures Web site, but the information is primarily geared toward making complaints about unscrupulous vendors. I plan to ask about this during my next trip to Whole Foods, but I wonder if any of you have encountered this kind of reaction from your produce vendors when using your own reusable (non-plastic) bags? Any ideas about where I can find more info for my case? Huge thanks in advance -
Do your mesh bags have a tag with the tare weight indicated? They should be able to deduct that weight at the register, if it's Whole Foods. At our Whole Foods in Berkeley, we take our containers to the customer service desk where they weigh them and mark the weight on a sticker. Then the cashier deducts it.
I do know that all Whole Foods Markets are not the same and the managers decide policy for the store. I look forward to hearing how your conversation goes with the manager and about anyone else's experiences outside the Bay Area.
My bags unfortunately do not have tare weight indicated; they're handmade from an Etsy vendor and have no tags or markings at all.
I also now realize that I may not have been clear in my initial post; the store I had problems with tonight was *not* Whole Foods. I'd read about your successes with bringing your own containers to WF and plan to consult them for more information on the topic from an area retailer perspective. They're unfortunately not so conveniently located to me to be my regular market (though I do make occasional special trips); I'd prefer if I could convince my within-walking-distance major chain supermarket that this is a good practice to accommodate!
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