In a check conducted across Mumbai, the Hindustan Times found several retailers based in the city’s busiest spots overcharging consumers for soft drinks. This, despite the maximum retail price (MRP) printed on the bottles.
Major violations were observed outside the Bombay Stock Exchange, Stadium Restaurant at Churchgate, Good Luck Restaurant at Bandra and even at the Bombay Hospital canteen at Marine Lines.
Shops near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus overcharged customers by at least a couple of rupees for a 200 ml bottle, while the amount increased for a 500 ml bottle. Most of these eateries refused to give bills for the soft drinks.
Restaurants charged between Rs 6 and Rs 10 extra even if the product was not consumed within their premises.
Snehal Bal, a Chembur-based lecturer who has often been fleeced in this manner, said: “Vendors charge us more because the soft drink is chilled. This is just a way of extracting money.”
An official from the Legal Metrology Department, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said charging more than the MRP was a major violation.
“Serving soft drinks that are not refrigerated is pointless. Retailers must provide products at the MRP after chilling them. They cannot charge separately for refrigeration as the MRP covers everything,” he said.
Shirish Desphande, chairman of the Mumbai Grahak Panchyat, said the onus was on consumers to prevent such violations.
“Resist, make a noise about it. Even if consumers do end up paying more, they should immediately lodge a complaint. Although being overcharged by a couple of rupees might seem unimportant, this is a huge racket and the volume of the business translates into huge profits for offenders,” said Deshpande.
Pepsico India’s spokesperson blamed the retailers. “PepsiCo has always followed the law. We have never advised our retailers to sell products above the MRP,” he said.
The Coca-Cola India spokesperson said consumers could address their complaints to the company directly. If you’ve been overcharged for Coca-Cola products, call 18001802653 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
He added that they have been insisting that retailers follow MRP guidelines.
“We discourage the practice of overcharging… compliance to the MRP is often emphasised to the retailers...,” he said.