Consumer Affairs

Since its adoption during the 1980s, metric conversion has been a disaster for British consumers. In any market place, the goal of weights and measures is to provide consumers with information on the products they wish to buy. Obviously, such information must be in terms that they relate to and understand. On this basis alone, metric fails to deliver since every national or consumer survey conducted on the matter shows that most consumers prefer impreial units. This is despite twenty years of metric education which has failed to convert the British public to the metric system.

Consumers’ declining awareness of quantity, combined with the physical repackaging of foods and goods along metric lines, has deprived consumers of the means of judging value and provided endless opportunities for “hidden” price increases, whereby packaged quantities are rounded downwards. This is the Great Metric Rip-Off.

Worse, the quantity reductions that occur as a result of metric conversion are not “one off” occurrences. Metric, by its abstract nature, promotes conditions in which product reduction can take place at any time without consumers having a means of detection.

Despite widespread opposition to metric among consumers, neither mainstream consumer organisations nor the government’s own Department of Consumer Affairs, represent consumers’ views or interests on this issue. Similarly, trading standards offices, rather than carrying out their traditional function of protecting customers from short measure, are being used to police the enforcement of metric, even when this is clearly contrary to the interests of consumers.