A Consumer court in Hyderabad has directed 'More Megastore' to discontinue its unfair trade practice of arbitrarily imposing additional cost of carry bags (bearing its logo) on the consumer at the time of making payment.
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad has held that using the Consumer as an advertisement agent at his cost tantamount to unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
A Bench comprising of Vakkanti Narasimha Rao (President), PVTR Jawahar Babu (Member) and RS Rajeshree (Member) said,
"The opposite party is selling the plastic bags having their Company Logo due to which Acts of them, they are using the complainants as tool of their Advertisement that leads to adoption of un-fair trade practice apart from deceptive nature of services and committal of spurious acts that should be highly objectionable."
The Commission was considering a complaint filed by law student Baglekar Akash Kumar.
The Commission relied upon a recent ruling of the NCDRC in Big Bazaar (Future Retail Ltd.) vs Sahil Dawar, whereby Big Bazar was restrained from imposing additional cost of carry bags bearing company logo.
The Commission has held that disclosing the price of carry bags at the payment counter also amounts to un-fair trade practice. It observed,
"As a matter of Consumer rights, the consumer has the right to know that there will be an additional cost for carry bags and also to know the silent specifications and price of the carry bags, before he exercises his choice of patronizing a particular retail outlet before he makes his selection of goods for purchase from the said retail outlet."
In the instant case, Advocate K. Chaitanya appearing for More Megastore had argued that collecting Rs. 3 for carry bags is not prohibited under any law. He submitted that the company never compelled the Complainant to purchase the carry bag and the same was purely his choice.
However, the Commission recorded the complainant's submission as below:
"As per the existing Government orders of both Central and State Governments, retailer can charge for plastic carry bags without using their company's logo (Means they shall sell plain carry bags). With the carry bags if any sold having company's logo that should be supplied on free of cost."
The Commission has now directed the company to provide free carry bags to all customers if in case they printed their Company Logo on the carry bags.
However, liberty is granted to charge for plain carry bags, with prior intimation and consent of Consumers and by displaying the information at conspicuous places in the Business premises.
Inter alia, the Commission directed the company to pay Rs.15, 000/- as compensation to the Complainant for collecting fees for company logo carry bags from him.