State law requires wood to be sold either by the cord or as a percentage of a cord. Officials say most people aren't aware of what a cord is or looks like, so they could be susceptible to an unscrupulous seller. Tony Lavieri of the San Joaquin County Office of Weights and Measurements says firewood is sold in ways that can be confusing to customers.
"You have to aware of wood sold by the pickup loads, truck loads, face cords, racks, piles, I've even heard of handfuls. So it's extremely difficult to compare what you're getting and whether or not you're getting a good deal or not."
Lavieri says buyers should make sure the wood has been seasoned properly.
A spokesman says the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has had cases of vendors selling wood that has been stolen.
One official says many reputable dealers don't place ads in newspapers. They simply rely on word-of-mouth advertising.