Pay more or go home

Bangalore Business City

Shopkeepers in Bangalore are surcharging the customers, asking them to pay more than the maximum retail price (MRP).

Sanchari Ghatak

Shopkeepers near Anand Rao circle have been surcharging the customers on various Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Customers are being forced to pay Rs. 20 for a packet of chips that costs Rs. 10, Rs. 30 for a bottle of packaged drinking water that costs Rs. 20 etc. Even refunds are not being entertained upon refusal to buy the item. The same situation persists even in the top tier restaurants across the city.

Akhil Jain, a customer who was overcharged told The SoftCopy, “The shopkeepers here fly into a rage if the fraud is pointed out to them. Even though they can cite no valid reason for the surcharge, they are adamant on the pricing. Even threats of police complaints do not work here.”

Gopalappa, a shopkeeper surcharging customers at Anand Rao Circle said, “If you want to buy my products, you have to pay what I ask you to. The cold drinks need to be cooled in the refrigerator, it takes up electricity. Who will pay for it, if not the customers?”

Maximum Retail Price or MRP is the highest price at which a product can be sold in India. This includes the cost of production, transportation, profit and all applicable taxes.

Restaurants cannot claim service charges because of GST. This accounts to unfair trade practices. Also, MRP should be printed. If the customer finds any discrepancy, he/she may file a complaint.

Section 2(1)(r) in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, protects the rights of the consumer by putting surcharging under the head of ‘unfair trade practice.’

Mr. Manoj Kumar, Assistant Controller of the Legal Metrology department, Bangalore, suggested, “The public should visit our website and read up on the laws and rights that protect the customer. They can either bring the miscreants to the notice of the field officers or file complaints online on the consumer helpline website.”

The cases get directed to the various consumer redressal forums according to the penalty claims. Mr. Manoj explained, “The case gets directed to The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF) if the value of the claim is up to Rs 20 lakh, to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) if the value of the claim exceeds Rs 20 lakh but within Rs 1 Crore, and to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) if the value of the claim exceeds Rs 1 Crore.”