Asking a customer to pay ₹18 for a cloth bag has cost hypermarket chain Big Bazaar ₹23,000 in two separate cases. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ordered it to pay ₹20,000 to the Consumer Legal Aid Account and ₹1,500 each to two complainants.
What was the subject of complaint?
- Baldev Raj, a resident of Panchkula, complained to the commission after a cashier at Future Retail’s Big Bazaar store in Industrial Area, Phase 1 charged him ₹18 for a cloth bag. He had purchased it on March 20 this year.
- In a similar case, as per Santosh Kumari, another Panchkula resident, she was also charged ₹18 for a cloth carry bag.
Was there any prior information?
Baldev Raj insisted hat the store did not mention anywhere that he would be charged for the bag. Doing so amounted to deficiency in service and unfair trade practice. Thereafter, the complainants filed a formal complaint at the Consumer Forum on April 4, 2019.
What does Big Bazaar say?
- Disclosure of information
In its response to the case, Big Bazaar representatives pleaded before the forum that there were no wrong charges. Information on the price of the carrying bag had been prominently displayed at the store.
- Consent of consumer
It was also mentioned that the cashier had added the price of the bag to the total amount post-Baldev Raj’s consent had been taken.
What was the court’s decision?
The forum observed that it was not impressed with the fact that the customer had been informed about the cost of the bag when he was paying for other items. Charging for a bag amounted to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service as it would have been odd and inconvenient for consumer to carry the purchases in his hands.
- Unfair trade practices
“In this backdrop, the costs of such things (cloth bags) cannot be separately foisted upon the consumers. This would amount to overcharging.”
The forum added, “…the Complainant and other gullible consumers like him have certainly been taken for a ride by the opposite party. Undoubtedly, the opposite party (Big Bazaar) has several stores across the country and made a lot of money. Thus, the act of the opposite party, by forcing the gullible consumers to pay additionally for the carry bags, surely and certainly amounts to deficiency in service and its indulgence into unfair trade practice…”
News Source: The Indian Express
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