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  • Rajesh Yadav
    Cola costs more? Nothing official about it! [15 Apr, 2007 l 2012 hrs ISTl NishantlTIMES NEWS NETWORK] Print Save EMail Write to Editor Cola companies and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2007
      Cola costs more? Nothing official about it!
      [15 Apr, 2007 l 2012 hrs ISTl NishantlTIMES NEWS NETWORK]
      Write to Editor

      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
      is pointless.

      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!
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