A hotel in Thane has been told to pay a customer Rs. 15,000 for charging him Rs. 36 extra on three bottles of packaged drinking water. The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission upheld the August 2010 order of Thane district consumer forum that directed the hotel, Ratna Park, to pay Rs. 10,000 to the customer for mental agony caused and Rs. 5,000 towards cost of litigation.
Thane resident Makrand More had moved the Thane district consumer forum in November 2009 stating that in September 2009 he had bought three bottles of water from the hotel for which he had been charged Rs. 25 a bottle – against the printed cost of Rs. 13 each. He had sought compensation of Rs. 75,000 from the hotel alleging the overcharging amounted to unfair trade practice.
The hotel, on its part, said the customer chose to purchase the water from the hotel counter instead of a cold drinks stall on the road and inside the hotel his companion had utilised the washroom and therefore they were right to charge the extra amount.
Acting on his complaint, the district forum held that overcharging a customer amounts to unfair trade practice and exploitation of consumers and directed the hotel to pay compensation.
The hotel management challenged the district forum order on grounds that the compensation amount was exorbitant as compared to the excess price – Rs. 36 charged from him.
The commission rejected the appeal noting that the hotel had been recovering excess money in such a manner from several customers as a regular practice.
“The complainant approached the District Forum, and therefore, such unfair trade practice adopted by the appellant [hotel] has come to light,” the consumer commission noted while dismissing the hotel’s appeal.