| Too costly'
Mumbai, Oct. 8: An airline has been charged with an offence usually associated with the neighbourhood grocer — overcharging customers for food items.
The Maharashtra legal metrology department has registered a passenger’s complaint that low-cost carrier SpiceJet sold him packaged snacks on board a flight but refused to hand him a bill. Nor did the packets carry the maximum retail price (MRP) tag, Dr B.V. Jichkar added.
The department — the government arm that verifies weights and measures — has sent a notice to the Gurgaon-headquartered airline and its supplier, Harish Company of Chennai.
Repeated attempts to get a response from SpiceJet proved futile.
The rules say that either a bill or an MRP tag is a must as a record of how much money was charged for a certain amount of goods, officials said.
“Dr Jichkar, a Mumbai-based physician, felt he was unfairly charged for snacks sold on board his SpiceJet flight,” said Ankush Dhanvijay, controller, legal metrology, Maharashtra.
“We verified the complaint and have sent legal notices to these companies. We are yet to hear from them.”
For many people travelling by low-cost airlines, “the (price of the) snacks sold by the pretty ladies on board come as a shock”, Dhanvijay said.
“But few take the matter up and seek redress. If passengers — and consumers in any other arena — feel cheated or unfairly charged without an MRP tag, they must approach us.”
Dr Jichkar had bought two packets of roasted and salted cashew nuts while travelling from Mumbai to Delhi on a SpiceJet flight on September 18.
“The tiny packets had a printed weight of 25 grams. But Dr Jichkar felt it was much less. He was charged Rs 30 for each packet. When he pointed out that the packets did not contain a price tag, he was told by the crew that it did not matter since the airline had fixed the rates for the snacks,” Dhanvijay said.
Jichkar asked for a bill and was allegedly refused. On his way back to Mumbai on September 20, the physician again bought a packet of cashew nuts but did not open it.
Instead, he registered the matter with the metrology department and deposited the packets — two empty and one unopened — as proof.
“The low fares often hold back many passengers from questioning the unusual rates,” said Y.P. Singh, a lawyer. “Many of you may have accepted the (snack) rates as the price of the luxury of mid-air snacking. This must stop.”
SpiceJet and Harish Company are charged with violating the Standard Weights & Measures (Packaged Items) Rules, 1977.