I would like to open up a business that sells soaps etc. We bought glass bottles that contain 200ml. When we fill them up, the bottles are obviously not filled 100% to the top.
How careful do we have to be when putting the amount of ml of soap on the label? For e.g., should we put 185ml since some space is taken up by the lid and also we may not pour until its totally full. Is there an accepted practice that when shampoo companies sell their products there isn’t EXACTLY the amount they say?
If you are only filling up the bottle to 185ml, then you have to write 185ml on the bottle, and you may not write on the bottle that it contains 200ml. Not only is giving the customer less than what is written stealing, but it is also included in the bibilical prohibition not to have faulty weights. In fact, it is a verse in this week’s parsha. ויקרא Vayikra 19-35,36 not to cheat with measurements. In fact, the verse ends with the words “I am Hashem your God”. Rashi asks on this, why does the Torah write this, it is obvious?! He answers that the torah specifically wrote it regarding having honest measurement, because there is a strong yetzer hora to cheat in this area, because one might think, that no one is going to know anyways. Therefore, the Torah says, I, Hashem know if your scales and measurements are honest or not!
I once heard a beautiful story regarding this. Years ago, there was a man who had a business selling paper cups, etc. He wasn’t so honest and instead of putting 100 cups in a sleeve, he only put in 97. This went on for while, and then he decided to do teshuva. The problem was he had no idea how to pay back all the customers that he had for the last number of years. He went to R’ Yackov Kaminetzsky zt”l to ask him what to do, and he told him that from now on he should put 103 cups in each sleeve. This way hopefully he will still have the same customer and he will slowly pay it all back.
The man did this for a number of years. There was an investigative reporter for a national newspaper that decided to check how honest, the various paper good companies are. He bought cups etc., from numerous companies and counted them for the article that he was going to publish. Each of the companies was cheating their customers, and the reporter publicized it for everyone to see. Company X gave only 98 and company Y gave 97 etc., but then he wrote that Yankel’s company gave 103(!) cups in each sleeve. This cause a major kiddush Hashem. The person went back to R’ Yackov zt”l to tell him what happened, and he told him that it was a sign from heaven that his teshuva was accepted.