Made to measure – be informed when buying firewood
As the weather begins to get colder, our thoughts turn to winter preparation, in particular keeping warm! If you’ve got a fireplace or woodburner, firewood goes on the list of priorities.
When a cord is not a measurement
Recent experience tells us that people still think in “cords” when purchasing their firewood supply, but not many could tell you how big a cord actually is.
Firstly, a cord (equal to 3.62 cubic metres) is not a legal term of measurement. Just as you can’t buy cloth by the yard, milk by the pint or fruit by the pound, nor can you buy firewood by the cord because it is not a metric quantity.
Secondly, when making any purchase, it’s important to have an appreciation of the amount you should be receiving. It is likely you’ll know roughly how much a metre of material is, what a litre of milk looks like and how many bananas you’ll get for a kilogram. The same applies to firewood – to avoid getting ripped off, it pays to know approximately the amount you expect to be receiving for the price you’re paying.
Legal measurement for firewood
Firewood can be sold either by volume – ie, cubic metres – or by description – eg, a truck load, a trailer load or sackful. It is accepted that firewood will be sold as a “thrown measure” – ie, as if it were thrown into a container, not as if it were stacked.
While firewood merchants are not required to sell wood by volume, those that do must use an approved measure. An approved measure could be a truck, trailer or bin that has been approved and verified as accurate by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ Measurement and Product Safety Service (MAPSS). MAPSS’ role includes ensuring that trade is conducted on the basis of fair and accurate measurement.
An approved measure for firewood will have on it a lead stamping plug imprinted with a Crown. It will also be marked with its volume in cubic metres, and an identification and certificate approval number. MAPSS can tell you the traders in your area that have a certificate of approval for their firewood measures (see contact details for MAPSS below).
When buying firewood by volume, the merchant should provide you with an invoice stating the true net weight or measure of the quantity delivered.
Tips to help you buy wise
Whether buying by weight or description, how will you know that you’re getting a fair deal? MAPSS has the following advice.
- Shop around to get a competitive price. Look in the Yellow Pages, local newspaper or community newspaper, and trade magazines for local firewood merchants and check out the going rate.
- Ask friends for a recommendation of a reputable source.
- If buying by volume, check that the merchant is MAPSS certified.
- If buying by description, make sure you’re happy with the quantity before committing to buy it. You may wish to see it first.
- Ask about the condition of the firewood. Wood that is green or wet is poor quality for burning and will lose density (and therefore value) as it dries.
- Remember that firewood is sold as a ‘thrown measure’ so will reduce by one-third in volume when it is stacked.
Making a complaint
If you think you have received less firewood than you ordered, don’t use it. Keep the wood in a secure place and contact MAPSS for advice. MAPSS may investigate the complaint. You can contact MAPSS by calling freephone 0508 MAPSS Info (0508 627 774). For more information visit our website (see the Measurement section).