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Not a penny more, not a penny less

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PUSHPA GIRIMAJI   |     |   Published 30.07.07, 12:00 AM

Under the Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, all packed goods should carry certain essential information on the package, such as weight or volume, the name and address of the manufacturer, the date of manufacture and in case of food packages, the best before date and of course, the maximum retail price (MRP).

Sometimes it so happens that the manufacturer increases the price of a product — may be because of the change in duties or increase in the cost of production — and the new packages carry the revised MRP. Obviously this new price does not apply to the stock already with the retailer. And this is where retailers try to make a quick buck by trying to sell the old stock at the revised rate, even though doing so is an unfair trade practice.

One such case came up before the apex consumer court or the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission recently. The product in question was tarpaulin. According to the complainant, the price mentioned on the Duckback baby sheet purchased by him was Rs 92, but he was sold the sheet at Rs 112.

The seller’s argument was that the price of the sheet was Rs 124, but it had an old label indicating the MRP as Rs 92. So after discussion, the price was settled between them (the seller and buyer) at Rs 112.

The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that if the old label indicated Rs 92 as the MRP, then charging more than that constituted an unfair trade practice. And as punishment for indulging in such a practice, the commission used the relatively new provision in the Consumer Protection Act to impose exemplary damage and asked the seller to pay the consumer punitive damages of Rs 10,000.

While agreeing with this view, the apex consumer court pointed out that if the price had been increased from Rs 92 to Rs 125 due to increased cost of production and transportation, that would apply only to the new stock. The price of the old stock cannot change and therefore the old stock cannot be sold at the new price (M/S Cargo Tarpaulin Industries vs Sri Mallikarjun B.Kori, RP no: 2132 of 2007).

So whatever you are buying, make sure that you are paying the right price and are not being overcharged. And if you have a grievance on this score, you can complain to the department of weights and measures. You can also file a complaint before the consumer court.

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