Retail brands these days trying to make themselves as ‘eco-friendly’ or simply complying with the plastic ban, many retail brands sell products in carry bags made of paper and fabric. Unfortunately, the price of this carry bags falls on the pocket of the innocent customers and they are billed for the same. The bizarre part is that this practice of selling carry bags became so usual that consumers have completely accepted this without protest. However, one of the consumers of Chandigarh finally raised his voice and filed complaint against Bata where he was charged Rs. 3 extra for purchasing product worth of Rs. 399. Putting an end to the practice, a Chandigarh consumer forum has penalised retail brand Bata India Ltd for indulging in unfair trade practice by charging the consumer for the carry bag bearing its advertisement asking a consumer to pay Rs 3 for a paper bag. Apart from levying a fine of Rs 9,000 on the company, the regulator also censured the company for harassing customers.
Dinesh Prasad Raturi purchased a pair of shoes for Rs. 399 however he was charged Rs.402/- for the same. He was handed over the shoes put in a paper carry bag bearing the advertisement name of the shop ‘BATA’. He had no intention to purchase the carry bag and it was duty of the shop to provide the carry bag but he was forced to pay price of the carry bag. Raturi told the forum that by charging him for the bag, Bata was also endorsing its brand on the bag which was not justified.
A bench of President, Rattan Singh Thakur and two members, Surejeet Kaur and Suresh Kumar Sardana observed that the advertisement of the company printed on the carry bag is stylish in nature and used the consumer as the advertising agent Bata. Dinesh Prasad Raturi sought a refund of Rs 3 and compensation for deficiency in services. However, Bata denied the allegations of deficiency in services. The forum said compelling a customer to pay for a paper bag was a clear deficiency in service as it was the store's duty to provide a free bag to the customer who had purchased their product.
The consumer forum has directed Bata to provide free paper bags who purchase articles from its Shop and stop unfair trade practice. It also observed that if the companies are really worried about the environment, they should provide free environment-friendly bags to their customers. The forum in its decision has also directed Bata India Limited to refund the cost of the bag (Rs 3) and litigation charges, i.e. Rs 1000 along with Rs 3000 as compensation to the customer for the mental agony caused by deficiency in services. In addition to this, the forum has also directed the leading shoe brand to deposit Rs 5,000 by way of punitive damages in the legal aid account of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.