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Do you get what the packaging promises?

When you buy pre-packed goods, do you really get the quantity that is declared on the package? Not always, as many alert consumers and consumer groups have discovered.

delhi Updated: Jan 08, 2011 23:30 IST

When you buy pre-packed goods, do you really get the quantity that is declared on the package? Not always, as many alert consumers and consumer groups have discovered.

Recently, a consumer who bought a packet of branded masala for R46 found to his dismay that the contents weighed 10 gm less than the declared weight of 200 gm. Individually, it's a loss of R2.30 for him, but collectively to consumers as a class the loss is immense. Or to put it differently, the 'gain' or unjust enrichment to the manufacturer (at the cost of the consumer) would be considerable.

This is not an isolated case. An Ahmedabad-based consumer group, Consumer Education and Research Centre, which tests products and compares brands to help consumers make an informed choice, has often found packed goods weighing less than the declared quantity.

It has found this in turmeric powder, chilli powder, bread, besan, edible oils, vanaspati, instant coffee, milk, mineral water, hair oil, bathing bars and toilet soaps. Such discrepancy in weight robs the consumer of the legitimate quantity that she or he is paying for.

Under the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, all pre-packed goods have to mention the net weight of the contents. And if the weight is less than what is marked (the law also allows a small margin of error or the maximum permissible error), the manufacturer or the packer as the case may be, is liable for prosecution. There is an urgent need for better enforcement of the law by the state authorities

I must also mention that under the amended rules, all retailers covered under the Value-Added Tax or Turn over Tax have to keep in a prominent place at the retail outlet, an electronic weighing machine, with facility to issue a printed receipt indicating the gross quantity, price, etc., so that consumers can see the weight.

SN Anand: A few days ago I bought a kilogram of ghee. When I weighed it at home, I found that it weighed only 950 gm. What can I do in such a case?

Answer: Have it weighed at the shop where you purchased it and get a receipt showing the actual weight and then complain to the manufacturer, the retailer and the department of legal metrology, giving details of the product including the batch number and enclosing a photocopy of the receipt. The website of the ministry of consumer affairs gives the contact details of all the controllers of legal metrology in the country.

Under the Consumer Protection Act, any shortcoming in the quantity of goods sold constitutes a defect in the product.

npgirimaji@gmail.com