Charging a customer on the basis of vague or misleading information, amounts to unfair trade practice, a city consumer forum ruled last week while penalising a multinational private bank for recovering inapplicable surcharge from a Juhu resident.
“According to provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, providing wrong information to a customer amounts to adopting unfair trade practice,” observed the Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Forum.
The forum was hearing a complaint lodged by Juhu resident Naina Booch who had purchased vehicle spare parts from a petrol pump in Dadar for Rs30,559 with her credit card in February 2009.
However, when she received the credit card statement, it included an additional amount of Rs858.70 towards surcharge. Booch alleged that the surcharge was payable only on purchasing fuel from a petrol pump beyond a specified amount, and since she had not purchased fuel, the surcharge was not payable.
The bank’s counsel, Ashutosh Marathe, argued that since the transaction had taken place at a petrol pump, it attracted surcharge. The bank also contended that an Electronic Draft Capture machine was fitted at the petrol pump, and its computerised system automatically added the surcharge, and therefore, the bank could not be held liable for the fault.
The bench of forum president JL Deshpande and member Deepa Bidnurkar, however, held the bank guilty of adopting unfair trade practice for failing to provide complete and necessary information to its customer.
Had the complainant been informed that every transaction done at a petrol pump would attract surcharge, she would have purchased vehicle spare parts somewhere else, the forum noted.
It has now directed the bank to pay Booch Rs25,000 towards compensation and cost of the litigation and refund the surcharge with interest of 12% per annum from February 19, 2009.