The District Consumer Court Disputes Redressal Commission has directed Reliance Retail Limited, Reliance Trends Junior at Nexus Elante Mall in Industrial Area Phase-1 to pay ₹1,000 for harassment and mental agony and ₹500 for litigation expenses to Mandeep Singh Saini of Sector 34 for charging ₹5 for a carry bag.
As per the judgement, Saini had visited the shop on April 1, 2021, and while paying for his purchases he noticed a ₹5 charge for a carry bag without him being informed. He resisted the extra charge, but to no avail and filed the complaint.
Meanwhile, the opposite party contended that the complaint was totally frivolous and that the charges were taken only after the consent of the complainant — who, as per them, after being informed chose to purchase the bag, which shows explicitly her free consent as contemplated in Section 14 of the Indian Contract Act and prayed for the dismissal of the complaint.
The commission observed, “We are not impressed with the same, in as much as if the opposite party informed the complainant about the purchase of carry bag before billing, the same amounts to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service as it would have been very odd and inconvenient for complainant to carry the new articles in hand throughout without a carry bag. In this backdrop, charges of such things cannot be separately foisted upon the consumers and would amount to overcharging.”
“In our considered view, the price of the carry bag has generally been included by it in the profit margins of the product(s). It was for the gain of the opposite party. By employing unfair trade practice, the Opposite Parties are minting a lot of money from the gullible customers from all their stores situated across the country,” the order further read.
They added that the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, under similar circumstances in 2019, had held that all kinds of expenses incurred in order to put goods into a deliverable state shall be suffered by the seller.
While announcing the compensation awarded to Saini, the commission noted that the ₹1,000 compensation to be paid for harassment and mental agony is on the lower side as mental agony of parting with ₹5 could only be caused to this extent.