DONT PAY MORE THAN MRP
- Cola costs more? Nothing official about it!
[15 Apr, 2007 l 2012 hrs ISTl NishantlTIMES NEWS NETWORK]
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Cola companies and officials prefer to turn a blind eye while
shopkeepers, restaurants and cinemas continue to sell colas at
prices higher than the MRP.
Did you know that selling a packaged commodity at a price higher
than its MRP (maximum retail price) is prohibited under the
Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules,
1977? But how many among us actually bother to check the MRP before
paying that extra buck? Hardly any. Why else would shopkeepers,
restaurants and multiplexes get away with selling, say a 200 ml soft-
drink bottle, priced at Rs seven, for much more?
Though some discerning buyers who notice such discrepancies do
question its logic, trying to catch shopkeepers off-guard every once
in a while, the diluted arguments of charging a "cooling price"
or "service charges" dished out by the New Age seller, often leave
one with a bad taste in the mouth. Result? The seller continues to
mint that extra buck even we think that arguing over a rupee or two
Opines pharmacist Amitabh Bhasin, one of those alert
consumers, "These shopkeepers simply don't relent and it's better to
pay that extra buck than be embarrassed in public. Retailers justify
their price mechanisms with excuses of low profit margins and
cooling charges which very frankly hold no water."
So how about asking for a receipt? But Bhasin's alertness turns to
sheepishness when explaining why he doesn't ask for a receipt for
the bottle: "Ab saat-aath rupaye ke liye kaun raseed le?" And this
when a consumer has every right to ask for a receipt whenever a
transaction is made!
But if retailers justify their stance thus, the scene at
multiplexes, cinema halls and restaurants is no better. Avers
Dheeraj Sharma, manager operations, of a multiplex in
Gomtinagar, "We provide takeaway containers, not soft-drink bottles,
so the MRP of the quantity sold in the container is important for
us, not the MRP on the bottle."
Rajesh Tandon of a popular cinema hall in Lalbagh on the other hand
says, "One or two odd bucks per bottle go into the account of the
waiter as service charge," even as he prefers to skirt the issue of
its legality with a shrug.
Surprisingly, Tandon's tactics find approval in customers like Rehan
Hashmi, a college-goer who feels that "the comfort of being served
at your seat is worth a couple of extra bucks." That the "couple of
extra bucks" means you pay upto 42 per cent over and above the
selling price, is a fact that seems to escape most.
Soft-drink majors meanwhile pass the buck onto government
officials. "The Weights and Measures Act enforces that retailers
sell products at the MRP and the Ministry of Civil Supplies in the
state monitors it," avers Kalyan Ranjan, senior manager, of a cola
major shrugging off any responsibility for the extra money being
charged for their soft-drinks.
Informs a senior official of the Weights and Measures department (on
conditions of anonymity): "It's illegal to charge any money over and
above the MRP. If the consumer has a receipt for such a transaction,
our department can take necessary action against the seller.
Customers can also approach the Consumers' Forum in such a case, and
the court would then decide the necessary damages."
Whatever the case may be, it's the customer who needs to act
responsibly. That's why they say jago grahak jago!