There has been a spurt in the number of complaints registered by the legal metrology organisation (LMO) about overcharging, a week before the World Consumer Rights Day.
Around 50 complainants have dialed the LMO helpline in four days and registered complaints about being charged more than MRP for milk packets, cold drinks and mineral water bottles.
On March 9, Hindustan Times had reported about the rampant fleecing by shopkeepers across the city. The LMO helpline, which used to get a complaint or two daily, registered over 10 complaints every day this week, following the report. The LMO is statutory body under food, civil supplies and consumer protection department, authorised to take action against the complaints about overcharging of packed products.
Spurred by the response from consumers, the LMO authorities have also started a special drive against the errant shopkeepers this week. Over 22 cases have already been registered in four days - 16 from Thane district and six from Mumbai city and suburbs.
“We overwhelmed by the response from the consumers and will take action against each complaint that has been registered. The numbers are shocking and we promise immediate action. For the next few days, we will assign maximum number of people from our staff to attend to these complaints,” said Sanjay Pandey, controller, LMO.
The next step is prosecuting the errant shopkeepers. This means, first-time offenders would be penalised up to Rs25,000; if they have been booked for the second time, they will have to pay Rs50,000; they will have to pay penalty Rs50,000 and face imprisonment of up to one year, if booked for the third time. So far, a compounded fees of up to Rs2,000 was charged as penalty under Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules. The authorities say stringent punishment will help curb the rampant overcharging ranging between Rs2-5 a litre depending upon the area.
Welcoming this move, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) chairman Shirish Deshpande said, “We will support the move by pointing out the pockets where overcharging is rampant. This is a serious issue because when we look at consolidated figures, the overcharging amount goes into crores.”
“The problem of overcharging is rampant. In Sion, many shopkeepers charge Rs5 more than MRP for cold drink or mineral water. They charge up to Rs4 extra for every litre of packed milk. I have lodged complaint with the LMO, but don’t know its status,” said Nikhil Rathore, 29, a Sion resident.
Kailash Verma, 43, from Andheri said, "I argue with shopkeeper every morning as he charges Rs1-2 more than the MRP per litre of packed milk. I had little choice but to pay whatever he asked for. The helpline number should be widely published so that everyone is able to complain.”
Here’s where you can complain
The legal metrology organisation (LMO), under food, civil supplies and consumer protection department, is a statutory body that takes action on consumer grievances regarding overcharging for packed products and wrongly weighed or measured loose commodities, such as food grains.
Call: Contact the controller of LMO, Maharashtra, on control room number 2288 6666 (10am to 5.30pm on weekdays)