Ever stopped by at the airport to take a gift back home and decided against it when the price tag made your jaw drop? Ever gone to the movies and ate your dinner in advance so you don’t have to spend exorbitantly on munchies? Those days will soon be gone! The government, under a directive, has forbidden companies from selling the same product at different ‘maximum retail prices’, addressing complaints of higher MRPs being charged at airports, malls and cinemas.
This directive comes as a part of an amendment in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which will come into effect from January 1, 2018.
“We are giving a breathing period to the manufacturers, so they have enough time for compliance,” an official dealing with legal metrology said in an Economic Times report.
The change comes in from the department of consumer affairs as a balanced approach after wide consultations.
The consumer affairs department issued a statement saying, “Based on the experience of implementation of the rules and after a detailed stakeholder consultation, the department has amended the rules, aimed at enhanced consumer protection, but at the same time balancing with the requirement of ease of doing business.”
Emphasising the stringent rules on higher MRPs, the statement added, “Specific mention is made in the rules that no person shall declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity, unless allowed under any law. This will benefit consumers at large as they are having complaint regarding dual MRP for item depending upon different type of public places like cinema hall, airport, malls etc.”
While the directive is certain to relieve consumers at malls airports and cinema halls, the ball seems to be in the restaurant owners’ court. Restaurant owners said the rules won’t apply to them.
“This won’t be applicable to restaurants as under GST they come under the category of supplier services. And the latest notification is applicable for retail services where customer buy off the counter,” said Rahul Singh, secretary, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).
To help consumers be rightfully aware of what they are charged, the government has ordered that the size of letters and numerals in the declaration be increased to make it easier for consumers to read.
To raise awareness about the price of medical devices and services, the consumer affairs department also ordered that medical devices such as stents, valves, orthopedic implants, syringes and tools for operations will have to display MRP.
Under the legal metrology rules, framed to regulate pre-packaged commodities, manufacturers are expected to comply with certain labelling requirements.