"Price fixing" between a manufacturer and retailer amounts to adopting unfair trade practice, the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ruled recently, while upholding an order issued by Raigad District Consumer Forum restraining Kamat Hotels from selling specially packed drinking water Oxyrich at a higher Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
Prahlad Padlikar, a resident of Alibag, had dragged Kamat Hotels and Dhariwal Industries Ltd., manufacturer of Oxyrich, to the district consumer commission. On January 23, 2009, Padalikar had taken a halt at Kamat Hotels near Karnala Bird Sanctuary on the Mumbai-Goa highway.
He was upset to find that the hotel had been selling Oxyrich mineral water bottle for Rs25, when the same one-litre bottle was available elsewhere for less than Rs15. He had approached the district forum alleging that "price fixing" by the manufacturer and retailer amounted to exploitation of consumers. On May 8, 2009, acting on his complaint, the forum restrained the hotel from selling the product at a higher MRP.
Both, Kamat Hotels and Dhariwal Industries had challenged the order before the state commission. "Per se, it appears to be a device, chosen to earn much more profit by adopting unconscionable conduct without any justification following "price fixing" and adopting unfair trade practice to exploit the consumer," the state commission concluded, while dismissing appeals filed by the hotel chain and Dhariwal Industries Ltd., manufacturer of Oxyrich.