Remember having to pay a few extra bucks, every time you ended up at a store without a carry bag? Well, that’s about to change.
In a bid to position themselves as ‘eco-friendly’ and responsible, or simply to comply with the plastic ban, many brands embraced carry bags made of paper and fabric. Unfortunately, the price of this bout of consciousness falls on the customers who are innocently asked, “Madam, carry bag?” and then are billed for it.
Putting an end to the practice, the Chandigarh Consumer Forum recently released a statement against Bata India, causing ripples in the retail industry.
Dinesh Prasad Raturi, a resident of Chandigarh, filed a complaint against Bata India on February 8. In the complaint lodged, he alleged that he had purchased a pair of shoes for Rs 399 and was charged Rs 402. The bill clearly stated extra charges for the paper bag. According to Dinesh, Bata was also using the paper bags to endorse their brand which was not justified.
According to reports, the complainant had bought a pair of shoes from a Bata store in Sector 22 D on February 5 and was charged a total bill of Rs 402, inclusive of the charges for the bag. Dinesh added that the bag which bore the store’s name was forced upon him though he had not opted for it.
His allegations were then investigated and once legitimised, the forum slammed Bata for the extra charges. In its judgement, the Consumer Forum stated that forcing a customer to pay for a paper bag is a clear deficiency in service as it’s the store’s duty to give environment-friendly free bags to the customers who purchase products from them.
“If Bata India is an environmental activist, it should have given the same to the complainant free of cost . . . . He never intended to purchase the carry bag and it was to be provided by the seller, Bata,” said the Forum.
“It was an essential item for sale of product. . . By employing unfair trade practice, opposite party [Bata] is minting a lot of money from all customers, read the statement released on April 12.
As a result, for charging Rs 3 for the carry bag, the company has been directed to not just refund the cost of the bag (Rs 3), but also pay litigation charges of Rs 1000, compensation of Rs 3000 for causing mental agony by deficiency in services, as well as deposit Rs 5,000 in the legal aid account of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, UT, Chandigarh. The company will also have to provide free carry bags to all its customers henceforth.
The judgement is expected to send out a larger message to all retail brands, and to consumers as well – to be aware and pay only for what you have bought.
(Edited Saiqua Sultan)