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December 15, 1997

Local News

Many consumers get burned buying firewood

  Every year, more than 20 Washington citizens get burned buying firewood from unscrupulous wood sellers. On average, these consumers each lose about $100. To protect yourself, get a receipt that shows the seller's name, address, type of wood, price and quantity. "Most people complain because they get less wood than they paid for. And many times they're right!" said Jerry Buendel, program manager for weights and measures at the state Department of Agriculture. "We could only resolve about a third of the complaints we received last year because the consumer did not have enough information. If possible, get the seller's phone number and write down the license plate number of the delivery vehicle."
   The legal measure for firewood in Washington is the cord or a fraction of a cord. Sellers may not legitimately use terms such as "truckload," "face cord," "rack" or "pile." These terms have no legal definition and cannot, therefore, be used as a measure for the amount of firewood being sold. Only packaged wood, such as kindling or a very small bundle of firewood, may be sold by the cubic foot or a fraction of a cubic foot. A cord is 128 cubic feet. To be sure you have a cord, stack the wood neatly by placing the wood in a line or a row, with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other. Make sure the wood is compact and has as few gaps as possible. Finally, measure the stack. If the width times the height times the length equals 128 cubic feet, you have a cord of firewood. When the wood is properly stacked, measure it. If there is a problem, contact the seller before you burn any wood. (360) 902-1857.