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Overcharge pain on soft drinks

Actress Deepika Padukone asks viewers on the telly to check the price of aerated beverages on the bottles’ neck instead of admiring hers but her advice has done little good to customers in Gaya.

Customers buying soft drinks from small kiosks in Gaya town have claimed shop owners are overcharging them. Several residents said they are being asked to pay Rs 2-3 more than the maximum retail price in the name of cooling charge.

Rajiv Kumar Sharma, a resident of Chowk area, said: “Recently, I bought a 200ml bottle of an aerated beverage for Rs 12 in the Chowk area. The maximum retail price was Rs 10 but the shop owner asked for Rs 2 more in the name of cooling charge. When I insisted, he was ready to give the product for Rs 10 but at normal temperature. Why should we not get chilled aerated beverages? Cold drinks mean chilled drink that give us some relief in the heat.”

Mukesh Dutt Tiwari, a resident of Mustafabad, also said: “I bought a 1.25 litre bottle for Rs 55 instead of Rs 52 printed on the bottle. Ice cream parlours don’t charge extra in the name of cooling charge, so why should shop owners selling chilled aerated beverages? The ice cream parlours, too, need to keep freezers on and pay electricity bills.”

Gaya sadar sub-divisional officer Maqsood Alam, he said: “I have not yet got any complaint in this matter. If the shop owners are overcharging customers for cold drinks, it is an offence. I will look into the matter and if the complaints are found true, legal action would be taken.”

A dealer for an aerated beverages company, on condition of anonymity, said: “It is wrong to sell chilled beverages for more than maximum retail price. The companies must have got some feedback in this matter and decided to stress, through advertisements, the practice of paying the correct amount for a soft drink.”

Recently, Salman Khan and Deepika Padukone have starred in advertisements for different aerated beverages companies to advise customers to pay only the maximum retail price for the products concerned.

A kiosk owner said: “We install refrigerators in our shops to keep the bottles chilled. We have to pay electricity bill to keep the refrigerator on. The profit margin on the sale of cold drinks is just around 10 per cent, so on one bottle worth Rs 10, we get only Re 1. We need to pay electricity bill and the transportation charge (for bringing the products from the dealers place to the kiosk). So, we are forced to charge extra money from the customers. We do not charge anything extra for mineral water bottles, as we enjoy a margin of 20 to 40 per cent.”


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