We all know about the rampant overcharging of packaged items at airports/malls/multiplexes etc. This is clearly illegal and we as consumers must take this up with the required authorities. See my earlier post "Hotels can charge extra for bottled water, says HC", where the high court ruled that hotels can do so because they are offering a "service". But by no stretch of imagination can we say that airports/malls/multiplexes are offering a similar service.
A few days ago I was at B'lore airport, where I bought a 200ml packaged juice with an MRP of Rs. 10. The guy at the counter sold this to me at Rs. 30! This time, instead of keeping quiet like other times, I decided to take on the shop which was selling everything above MRP.
I asked the guy at the counter whether he knew that he was committing an illegal act by selling above the MRP. For those who don't know, overcharging is illegal under the Packaged Commodities Rules (PCR), which states that any trader charging more than the MRP mentioned on the package can be prosecuted. He said that they have to sell above MRP because of "taxes". When I asked him what tax, he said "airport taxes". He first gave me a bill which didn't even have the name of the item on it. It said "Power failure" and "Item 1 --- Rs 30". Unbelievable! I asked him to give me a bill with the name of the item on it, so he gave me another tiny bill with just "Juice --- Rs 30" printed on it.
I then asked him to give me a hand made bill mentioning clearly the exact item that I'd bought, the printed price of the item I'd bought, and what were the exact taxes that were being charged. He, of course, refused. Then I asked him to call his manager. He said to wait for half an hour, his manager would come. Yeah, in half an hour, so would my flight. I asked for the name and phone number of his manager, but he refused again. I continued making a racket, all the while he continued serving other customers. Then I told him that I would take out my camera and take his photograph and take that as proof. Finally when I did take out my camera, he said that I can't take his photo without permission. I said I would unless he gave me a proper bill. Finally, he called his supervisor.
The supervisor came and I asked him the same stuff and asked for a bill. He refused to give me a bill as well. I told him that I would not only complain to the consumer court about overcharging, but I would make further complaints to the IT department and the consumer court about not giving an itemized bill and not mentioning the exacts taxes that are being charged. This guy said that he didn't know anything, his manager set the prices, etc, but refused to give me his manager's name/number as well. Finally, I got him to write the name of the juice packet on the bill itself with ink and made him stamp it. Hopefully that will do as proof. I got his name and phone number as well.
I fully intend to take this up with the Dept of Legal Metrology, the Consumer Court and whoever else I can as soon as I am back in India in a week.
BTW, a bit of search on the net turned up this wonder article "Check before you pay" about a woman complaining about a similar incident at an airport. She had complained to the Airport duty manager. I didn't know that one could do this. So on my way back through B'lore airport I will additionally also give my written complaint to the duty manager.
Continue reading Charging over MRP at airports - 2.