A Bharuch hotelier learnt the hard way why he shouldn't overcharge customers. For, a consumer court has ordered him to pay Rs1.62 lakh for charging an extra Rs22 from a Surat man on four bottles of cold drink from his hotel Nyaya Mandir in May 2003.
Upholding a Gujarat State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order, the national consumer court said the hotel could not have charged money in excess of the MRP printed.
But the aggrieved consumer — Ishwar Lal Jinabhai Desai of Surat —will get only Rs6,022 as a bulk of the money (Rs1.5 lakh) paid by the hotel will go to a consumer welfare fund. The hotel also paid Rs6,000 earlier when the state consumer court dismissed its appeal against the August 2005 district consumer court order in January 2006.
The district consumer court had allowed Desai's complaint and directed the hotel to refund Rs22, charged in excess of the MRP for the cold drinks and Rs5,000 and Rs1,000 as compensation for mental agony and cost of litigation. It had ordered the hotel to deposit Rs1,50,000 in a consumer welfare fund.
In May 2003, the hotel charged Desai Rs72 for the four bottles. The MRP printed on the bottle was Rs12.50. Desai contended the hotel should have only charged the MRP. The hotel contended Desai's complaint could not have been treated as "class action" without permission of the district consumer forum.
But the commission rejected it. It also rejected the hotel's argument that the extra amount was towards service charge as it was not mentioned in the receipt.