Monday, March 23, 2009

Sell Rs 12 water bottles at same price everywhere, rules consumer commission (Indian Express- 21 March 09)

AYESHA ARVIND

NEW DELHI:- RUPEES 12 and no more. That’s the State Consumer Commission’s directions to manufacturers on the price of branded one-litre mineral water bottles, often sold for a bomb in many outlets, especially inside theatres, food courts, malls and such places.
The Commission has also directed retailers and other concerned authorities, including the Weights and Measures Department, to not sell mineral water bottles at a price higher than that in the open market.

“A product like mineral water cannot be sold at a price higher than what is ordinarily charged in the relevant market,” Commission president Justice J D Kapoor said in a recent order. “To say that if there are 50 different brands of min eral water and (since) each brand will be of different kind and quality, they can be priced differently would amount to misleading the public.” The observations came after a Rohini resident, Virender Singh, moved the Commission contending that he was charged Rs 20 for a 1-litre bottle of ‘Himalaya’ brand mineral water at the kiosk inside Liberty Cinema. Singh told the Commission that the price printed on the bottle was higher than similar bottles available in the market.

But the defence contended that a consumer is “not an authority” to decide whether a packaged product is overpriced. A consumer, the defence counsel maintained, is only concerned with the maximum retail price printed on the product that is approved by the Weights and Measures Department.

It also submitted that the bottle Singh had bought was priced at Rs 20 for retail sale.

But ruling that this amounted to “unfair trade practice”, the Commission observed that if the manufacturers believed their brand of mineral water was different from that sold by other brands, they should not call their product “mineral water”, unlike other manufacturers.

“A product like mineral water cannot be sold at a price higher than what is ordinarily charged in the relevant market.” Justice J D Kapoor, president, State Consumer Commission

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