10 June 2024


Judgments

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

Big Bazaar (Future Retail Ltd.) vs. Sahil Dawar

MANU/CF/0536/2020

22.12.2020

Consumer

Levy of additional costs for carry bags at payment counter without prominent prior notice is unfair trade practice

The short point involved in present case is relating to charging additional cost for carry bags, to carry the goods purchased by the Complainant, has been held by the two Fora below, the District Forum and the State Commission, to be deficiency and unfair trade practice on the part of the Opposite Party Co. The Complaint was instituted before the District Forum under Section 12 of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The District Forum vide its Order determined deficiency and unfair trade practice on the part of the Opposite Party. The Opposite Party appealed under Section 15 of the Act, 1986 before the State Commission. The State Commission (also) made its appraisal of the evidence, and, vide its impugned Order dismissed the appeal.

It was also vehemently submitted by Counsel for the Appellant that, the purchase of carry bag is entirely optional and is a voluntary act by a consumer. However, in the same breath, it was also contended that, the customers cannot bring their own carry bags containing items/goods purchased from other shops. The Opposite Party has filed the instant Revision Petition under Section 58(1)(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 before present Commission.

It is well evident from the examination made by the two Fora below that, earlier the Opposite Party was providing carry bags made of polythene to its consumers without charging additional cost. Later it dispensed with polythene and substituted cloth in instead and started charging additional cost for the cloth carry bags. Consumers were under the impression that, as per the earlier practice of the Opposite Party, and as per the normal practice in retail outlets in general, no additional cost would be charged for the carry bags. Consumers were not allowed / were not in a position to / did not have prior notice or information to take their own carry bags. After making their purchases, at the time of making the payment, additional cost for carry bags was imposed on the consumers.

Both the Fora below, having respectively appraised the case, weighed the evidence, have returned concurrent findings of deficiency and unfair trade practice on the part of the Opposite Party. No palpable crucial error in appreciating the evidence is visible. No jurisdictional error, or miscarriage of justice, is visible. The Award made by the District Forum, as upheld by the State Commission, appears just and equitable in the facts of the case.

On the face of it, nothing warrants interference with the Award in exercise of the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission. The argument made by learned senior Counsel that, in "similar" cases of other traders notice has been issued by co-ordinate benches of this Commission, is not tenable. Mere issuance of notice by a co-ordinate bench in "similar" cases of other traders is not a binding precedent.

As a matter of Consumer Rights, the consumer has the right to know that there will be an additional cost for carry bags (the same being a deviation from the normal wont in retail outlets in general), and also to know the salient specifications and price of the carry bags, before he exercises his choice of patronizing a particular retail outlet and before he makes his selection of goods for purchase from the said retail outlet.

The Opposite Party through its Chief Executive is ordered to forthwith discontinue its unfair trade practice of arbitrarily and highhandedly imposing additional cost of carry bags on the consumer at the time of making payment, without prominent prior notice and information before the consumer makes his choice of patronizing its retail outlets and before the consumer makes his selection of goods for purchase, as also without disclosing the salient specifications and price of the carry bags.

Tags : Carry bags Additional cost Legality

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