Is charging above MRP an offence?
Author : MyLegalWork Staff
We’ve all faced the situation wherein we were asked by the shopkeeper or retailer to pay an extra rupee or two for ‘refrigeration’ of bottled drinking water and/or soft drinks. Most times we let it go thinking that ‘ek do rupay se kya ho jaega’. It is only because of this attitude of ours that these sellers have taken us for granted. So much so that all leading malls in the city have started following this practice.
So, what is the solution to this problem?
They won’t get away with it now though. I’m sure your weekend plan involves visiting one of these malls. What with all the leading brands offering huge discounts and selling their products at throwaway prices, visiting a mall will be on the ‘to-do’ list for all of us. So, of course you will be buying the much debated overpriced bottled water and soft drinks too. But, you don’t have to accept it this time!
Why is that so?
In a big reformative move, the legal metrology, on 4th January, has registered 18 cases against 17 establishments who had been overcharging for bottled drinking water as well as on soft drinks. These malls include Inox CR-2, Subway Hypercity, Infinity, Big Cinema, Inorbit, Oberoi Mall, Hubb Mall and Movietimes Multiplex, Cinemax, and Anupam Chitramandir in Mumbai and Orange Hotel and Restaurant at Viviana Mall in Thane.
But how will this help?
Being under threat, these as well as other big malls too, won’t charge you more than the MRP now.
Is there any other solution?
A few months back, the government had even announced the helpline phone numbers for registering complaints against such acts through a WhatsApp message and/or a phone call. (Some) People though, are either not aware about this service or (most) are not availing them even after being aware about it.
Does it work, though?
Yes, they most definitely do. If you don’t try it yourself, you will never find out. In an interesting case in Chennai, one such complaint has cost the retailer a fine of 7003 INR for charging a rupee extra on a packet of cookies. Why can’t this be a possibility in mumbai or any other city too then? It’s just a question of being vigilant and raising your voice against such retailers! According to a government official, “A 1000 or 2000 INR penalty is not much for a shopkeeper, given the fact that very rarely it would happen that someone would complain about an overcharging shopkeeper to us.” Hence, it is in the end, we, the end consumers, who are paying that one extra rupee and letting it go without protest.
What else should I know about this?
In another refreshing reform related to this, the government of Pune is also underway to introducing some new and stricter rules for controlling the pricing. The new act, over and above the penalty charge, will have a provision of non-bailable offence for the repeated offenders. First offence will be bailable while next will have harsher punishments and penalties. Also, police complaint will be registered against such offenders by officials of metrology department. Following this, the police as well as the metrology officials will work hand in hand for bringing the culprits to justice.
Other than this, the government is also soon going to make it mandatory for all retailers, eateries and other establishments selling food items to put up a visible display in their outlets providing information about this government service along with the helpline numbers, for public knowledge.
These, along with the news of the case registrations in Mumbai, are a positive movement towards such unfair pricing. The government and judicial bodies are doing their part, so it’s time we start doing the same. So, next time you’re asked to pay more, protest it and if the retailer still doesn’t bow, just call or message !
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