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Fair Go: Firewood - thrown not stacked

Published: 7:56PM Wednesday April 15, 2009 Source: Fair Go

Reporters: Gordon Harcourt and Hannah Wallis\

Aucklander Shelley Bradley ordered 3 cubic meters of firewood from Manukau Firewood Yard. She'd never ordered wood before and after it arrived and she'd stacked it, she thought it didn't look right. She measured, and sure enough - only 2.37 cubic meters - about 20%, or one fifth, less than she thought she'd ordered.

Shelley rang the company and asked for a refund of the missing wood - she figured that would be about $60. But Manukau Firewood yard said no, because the rules from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs state that: Firewood sold by measure is sold as a "thrown measure" ... as if it were thrown into a container, and not as if it were stacked.

Manukau Firewood Yard's trucks are rigged with two wire cages, each taking 3 cubic metres, with the volume certified accurate by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs' own inspectors.

Shelley says she wasn't told that when she ordered the firewood, and she says that's got to change - she wants all firewood retailers to make sure they explain the measures to customers.

Manukau Firewood Yard agrees it's important consumers are fully informed - and they'll look at putting up a sign in the yard, and telling customers on the phone before they buy that wood is sold as thrown, not stacked.

Shelley's experience is common - Consumer Affairs' weights and measures staff say a thrown load is 25 to 40 per cent less in volume when it's been stacked. Big chunks of wood can make a huge difference.

Our advice? Ask for the smallest possible chunks. You could save yourself a lot of money, and a lot of hard work with an axe, splitting your wood.

And we've a challenge for firewood retailers out there. The Manukau Firewood Yard reckon they are the only outfit in Auckland with trucks certified by Consumer Affairs. Let us know if they're wrong on that. If they're not, then if you are buying firewood you should be asking some serious questions about how much you're actually getting.

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