If you are one of those waiting for festival discounts to make your purchases, I suggest a quick exercise to make the wait worthwhile. Here is how to go about it.
First, prepare a list of what you intend to buy and where. The next step is to visit those stores where you prefer to shop and check the prices of the goods that you intend to buy. Make a note of the prices and keep it safe for your future reference. You could even capture the price on your mobile. Repeat the exercise after a fortnight.
Once the festival discounts are announced, compare the prices. This will give you a clear picture on whether the discount is genuine. Or to put it differently, whether there is a discount at all and if so, whether the percentage is as much as claimed.
The exercise is highly beneficial in several ways: It will help you identify those who genuinely offer a cut on the price and boycott those shops that make false claims; you will have the satisfaction of having taken advantage of a genuine discount offer, instead of being the victim of an unfair trade practice; and, the investigation will also arm you with the power to take action against those guilty of unfair trade practices.
Investigations carried out by regulators in several countries in Europe, North America and even in India (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission) have shown the following possibilities when a retailer advertises discount: He may increase the price prior to the sale and then offer a discount — in other words, he is making you believe that he has slashed the prices, but he has not; the discount may not be on all the items, but on a selected, outdated lot; the discount may not be as much as claimed, particularly when the retailer uses words like “Up to 50%”; some may even charge more than the usual price; and, some may confuse you with offers like 25+25% discount, which is actually 43% and not 50% as one would usually believe (You get a mark down of 25% first and then a further cut of 25% on the already discounted price).
So a couple of visits to the shopping malls will make you a better informed and alert consumer.
PC Luthra: Recently, I visited a showroom offering discounts of 30%-70% on readymade garments. I selected three shirts, all costing `657 and the total bill was `1,971. However, no rebate was given on the ground that the discounts were not applicable on the shirts (The discounts, I was told, were only on some clothes in a corner). I clearly remember seeing the same shirts priced at `450-500 just two months before this when I had visited the shop. Can I take action against the show room?
Answer: Yes, you can. Under the Consumer Protection Act, making false or misleading claims about a bargain sale or not selling at the price advertised constitutes an unfair trade practice. Similarly, advertising a bargain sale without intending to offer it at the stated price or for a period and in quantities that are not reasonable, is also an unfair trade practice.
Earlier, in a situation like this, you could have complained to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission and the director-general (Investigation and Registration ) would have investigated the case and hauled up the trader before the Commission.
Now in the absence of such a watchdog, you will have to file a complaint before the consumer court against the trader on charges of unfair trade practice.