Departmental store chain, Big Bazaar, has been fined with Rs 3 lakh for charging Rs 40 extra over a bottle of sesame oil in Surat.
The Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Surat district has imposed the penalty on the departmental store run by Future Retail Ltd to set an example in order to curb the unfair trade practice among traders.
In this case, a resident of Kamrej in Surat, Dilip Panchal, went for shopping in the departmental store at Dummas Road on October 20, 2014. He purchased various items and 1-litre sesame oil bottle was one of them. The bottle contained an MRP of Rs 230, but Panchal was charged Rs 270 instead. A computerized bill generated at the departmental store reflected this.
With regard to over-charging, Panchal made a complaint before the store as well as before the Controller of Legal Metrology and Director of Consumer Affairs in Gandhinagar. The authority sent an official for inspection after a month and gave a clean chit to the store.
When Panchal did not hear anything from the store, he sued it before the consumer court. The store requested Panchal to withdraw the case and sent a cheque of Rs 400 towards settlement, but Panchal did not agree.
Before the consumer court, Big Bazaar said that the customer might have purchased the sesame oil bottle from some other store. It also said that the cheque of Rs 400 was sent to Panchal to bear the cost of placing required documents before the store.
The court was not convinced and observed that people's experience in general is that traders are not generous enough to call the customers to furnish documents. The departmental store should have accepted the fact that the bottle was purchased from it only. It is sad that the departmental store tried to push the issue under the carpet.
The consumer court came down heavily on the officials of the Controller of Legal Metrology and Director of Consumer Affairs and said that it is their duty to ensure that no store charges more than the MRP printed on wrapper of the product. But in this case, the official seemed to have performed his duty under the influence of the big departmental store chain. The officials tried to shield the store by all means.
The court further said that the customer mustered courage to take on the big departmental store, but unfortunately, this courage was not shown by the government officials.
Finally, to set an example, the court asked Big Bazaar to deposit Rs 3 lakh with the Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission's legal aid section. It also asked the store to pay Rs 9000 to Panchal towards compensation.