The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Chandigarh has imposed a penalty of Rs 13,000 on a leading retail store for charging Rs 5 from a consumer for giving a paper carry bag to carry items that were shopped at the store.
Terming the charging of Rs 5 for each paper carry bag as “high-handedness” on part of the Lifestyle retail chain store, the forum pointed out that the store could not take the excuse that plastic carry bags were banned and they had to charge for the paper carry bags from consumers shopping at their store.
The complaint was made to the forum by a couple, Pankaj and Sangeeta Chandgothia, from Chandigarh. The decision was delivered by the forum on Friday.
Lifestyle store has been asked to deposit Rs 10,000 as penalty in the Consumer Legal Aid account and pay Rs 1,500 each to the complainants towards compensation for “harassment and mental agony” and as litigation expenses.
“The opposite party (Lifestyle store) has also argued that post ban of plastic bags, it started providing paper bags to its customers on payment of its price. However, we feel that banning of a product does not entitle the opposite party to charge for its substitute and the opposite party and all other shops like it are obliged to provide carry bags free of cost to carry the purchased items to their customers, as the customers cannot be expected to carry the items in hands,” the forum stated in its order.
The forum noted that the carry bag, for which the consumers had to shell out extra amount from their pocket, is a printed carry bag on both sides, which has a prominent display of the advertisement of the store and is serving as an advertisement for them.
“In this manner, the complainants and other gullible consumers like them have certainly been taken for a ride by the opposite party for advertising their name. Undoubtedly, the opposite party has several stores across the country and in the above said manner, made lot of money, thus, the act of opposite party by forcing the gullible consumers to pay additionally for the paper bags is surely and certainly amounts to deficiency in service and its indulgence into unfair trade practice,” the forum pointed out.
The forum asked the store to provide free carry bags to all customers forthwith who purchase articles from its shop. It also ordered the store to refund to the complainants the amount of Rs 5 wrongly charged for the paper carry bag.