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Justice for Consumers: NCDRC fines Shop Rs 50 lakhs for charging Rs 75 more on Drink

Postby dheerajjain » Tue May 06, 2014 8:11 am

NCDRC (National Consumer Disputes Redressel Commission) delivers landmark Justice to Consumer. Fines Shop Rs 50 lakh for charging Rs 75 extra on drink. NCDRC lashed out at both Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Shop Owner for being in nexus

Times of India, May 5, 2014 ... 650970.cms?

CHENNAI: That October morning in 2009, a vendor at Chennai airport decided to make an extra Rs 75. Five years later, he may be poorer by Rs 50 lakh.

Charging a customer double for an energy drink has attracted a strong censure from the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and a fine of Rs50 lakh for the vendor- Snack Bar, a unit of Saptagiri Restaurant.

NCDRC lambasted Snack Bar for having collected Rs150 for a can of Red Bull from Delhi resident D K Chopra, while the retail price was Rs75. It also came down heavily on airport authorities who it said were "working in cahoots" with stall owners to obtain higher rates for licences. The commission directed the stall owner also to pay Rs10,000 to Chopra.

Chopra bought the drink at the airport in October 2009. Unhappy over being charged almost double, he issued a legal notice, but the stall-owner did not reply. Chopra then moved the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF) for a compensation of Rs2 lakh for "harassment and mental agony," and Rs11,000 as "travel and legal expenses." But the forum dismissed his complaint.

Chopra then filed a first appeal in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC). This too was dismissed on the grounds that he had failed to prove the MRP of the product. He submitted two receipts for purchasing the drinks, which were not signed by the owner.

He approached the NCDRC. Counsel for Snack Bar said they were entitled to collect twice the MRP and submitted a letter from the deputy general manager, commercial at Chennai international airport. The letter mentioned the price of "imported juice/energy drink" as Rs140.

Questioning the logic of its classification as a juice, it said "by no stretch of imagination Red Bull can be called an imported juice energy drink." "Such a price list can be created any time and has exiguous value," said the commission. It also said the letter did not have endorsement from the Airports Authority of India. "Even if it is assumed that AAI had given permission, they are not empowered to do so. AAI cannot disturb MRP rates," the commission said. Stating a snack joint was "like a tea/ beedi stall," it said a person could not be forced to pay the prices which have been prescribed for restaurants.

"The stall owner has no right to misappropriate public money. It should go back to the public." said the commission, adding the vendor might have been charging above the MRP before 2009 and would have earned "crores of rupees." It directed the vendor to deposit the fine in the consumer welfare fund under the ministry of consumer affairs.
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