- Complainant Baglekar Akash Kumar filed a case against the respondent (More Megastore) under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, for charging ₹3 for a carry bag, after his purchase at the store.
- He stated that they had charged him an amount of ₹3 for a paper carry bag that had the company logo embedded on it, therefore stating that he was used as an advertisement tool, or agent.
- Consumers have a right to information about silent specifications and costs of carry bags before they pick out their necessities from any retail store, the District Consumer Redressal Commission, Hyderabad observed.
- According to the commission, informing the consumers about the price of the carry bag right when they are checking out the products will be considered as unfair trade practice, under the Consumer Protection Act.
"As a matter of Consumer rights, the consumer has the right to know that there will be an additional cost for carry bags and also to know the silent specifications and price of the carry bags, before he exercises his choice of patronizing a particular retail outlet before he makes his selection of goods for purchase from the said retail outlet," the Commission observed, in its order, passed on February 19.
- Consumer Protection refers to protection of consumers of goods and services from the general marketplace from exploitation of their rights, and unfair trade practices. The Consumer Protection Act 1986, and 2019 both aim to protect, and teach consumers their rights and remedies or redressals from the Consumer Court.
- Not informing the consumers of the price of the carry bag, prior to the consumers making a purchase at their store is considered as Unfair Trade Practice under Section 2(1)(r) of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and under Section 2(47) of Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- The Commission also observed usage of bags with a 'company logo', and stated that since the store used consumers as a tool of advertisement, that will also fall under Unfair Trade Practice.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
- After looking through the material on record, the Commission stated that "disclosing the price of carry bags at the payment counter seems to be undoubtedly an “unfair trade practice." It also observed that every consumer has the right to know about the 'additional charges' which have been added for purchasing the carry bag, prior to their purchase and selection of goods.
- The Commission directed the megastore to provide the carry bags for free, if they are embedded with the company logo, and if not, they can charge an amount, provided that there is intimation regarding the price, and such information must be displayed, at appropriate and visible places in the store.
- The Commission also directed the Store to pay back ₹3, with interest at 12%, from June 1, 2019, until realisation- to the complainant, along with an amount of ₹15,000 as compensation for utilising him as an advertisement tool.
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