19 Apr 2019
Bata charges customer Rs. 3 for carry-bag, fined Rs. 9,000
A leading shoe firm has been asked to pay Rs. 9,000 to a customer for deficiency in services.
A Chandigarh consumer forum, while acting on a complaint filed by one Dinesh Prasad Raturi, slammed Bata India Limited for charging Rs. 3 for a paper bag to carry the shoebox.
Bata, in its reply, said that it charged Raturi for the bag for environmental safety.
Raturi said he had no intention to purchase the bag
Raturi had filed a complaint on February 8, alleging that on February 5, he had bought a pair of shoes from the Bata shop in Sector 22, Chandigarh, for Rs. 399, and the cashier put it inside the bag, for which he was charged Rs. 3.
Raturi, in his plea, said that he had no intention to purchase the carry bag.
Complainant alleged Bata using him as their advertisement agent
The complainant further alleged that at his cost, the company was using him as their advertisement agent. The bag was indeed being used as an advertisement for the brand, as it had the taglines "Bata Surprisingly Stylish", "Barcelona Milan Singapore New Delhi Rome," imprinted.
Bata's defense: Charged Raturi for the purpose of environmental safety
Bata, meanwhile, in its reply said that they charged Raturi for the bag for the purpose of environmental safety.
The Consumer Commission retorted that "if Bata India is an environmental activist, it should have given the same to the complainant free of cost."
It also ordered the Gurugram-headquartered shoe stores company to give carry bags to all those who purchase their products, for free.
'There is unfair trade practice on the part of Bata'
The forum, after going through Raturi's affidavit, observed that "there is unfair trade practice on the part of Bata India in compelling the complainant to purchase the carry bag worth Rs. 3."
"By employing unfair trade practice, opposite party [Bata] is minting lot of money from all customers," read the forum judgment, released on April 12.
The forum also levied penalty on the company.
Bata to deposit Rs. 5,000 in "Consumer Legal Aid Account"
Bata will now have to refund Rs. 3 that was wrongly taken from Raturi, and pay him Rs. 3,000 as compensation.
Not just that, Raturi will also be paid Rs. 1,000 as litigation expenses by the company.
The forum further directed Bata to deposit Rs. 5,000 in the "Consumer Legal Aid Account" in the name of Secretary, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, UT, Chandigarh.
Lawyers laud move, say consumers can cite this order anywhere
Meanwhile, legal experts have lauded the order.
"People can cite this order anywhere in the country and have the bag charges waived. The order establishes that even if the bag is environment-friendly, the retailer cannot charge an additional amount for it," said Sagar Saxena, a Delhi-based advocate.
Another advocate, Nikhil Majithia, suggested, "After this order, Ministry of Consumer Affairs should come out with guidelines."