Though the department of consumer affairs runs the 'Jago Grahak Jago' programme to create awareness among consumers about their rights, city residents are being openly fleeced by retailers, who charge them more than the maximum retail price (MRP) mentioned on packed or sealed items.
With the advent of summer, sale of milk, soft drinks and mineral water has increased across the city, which the retailers are cashing in on by illegally increasing the cost of the items. However, authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to the menace.
According to department of consumer affairs, one cannot charge more than the MRP mentioned on items.
But, during a visit to various public places, including the bus stand and railway station, it was revealed that soft drinks and mineral water were being sold for more than the MRP.
Some shopkeepers at Shaheed Sukhdev Inter-State Bus Terminus were found selling the half-litre bottle of a soft drink for Rs 35, while its MRP is `30.
On being asked, a shopkeeper blatantly said, “I sell a chilled bottle of soft drink for `35 as I need to recover the cost of electricity used by the refrigerator. Everyone is selling cold drinks for more than the MRP. If we don't do that, we will face losses.”
However, according to sources, bottles of soft drinks and mineral water are purchased by retailers at wholesale prices, which help them make profit even after adjusting cost of electricity. Besides, the companies also provide them several schemes.
The situation is worse in buses and trains, where vendors unabashedly demand Rs 40 for half-litre bottles of soft drink against the MRP of `30.
“I bought a bottle of Slice at Rs 40 while its MRP is Rs 32 while travelling on a train. It is duty of the authorities concerned to check violation as we have no other option but to pay extra,” said Swaranjit Singh, a passenger.
“Though it could be common practice that soft drinks and mineral water are being sold for more than the MRP, I was shocked when I visited a shop outside Durga Mata Mandir where a packet of Verka double-toned milk (yellow) was being sold for Rs 20 while its MRP is Rs 16. It is difficult for the poor to buy milk at higher cost than the MRP. I have found several shops selling milk at higher prices,” said Preeti Kansal, founder and general secretary of Aagaz Charitable Foundation.
When HT reporter visited the same shop to buy a packet of Verka double-toned milk, the shopkeeper admitted that he charged Rs 20 against MRP of Rs 16 as he needed to recover the cost of ice that he used to keep the milk chilled.
Ajay Sahi, president of Federation of Consumer Organisation Punjab and National Forum for Consumer Rights, said, “Every consumer should get an invoice after purchasing a product. The invoice will carry the MRP price and discount details, if any. But, a consumer cannot be charged beyond the MRP. If a shopkeeper does not give a bill, it is also a violation. In such a scenario, a purchase must not be made.”
When contacted, district food supply controller Sona Thind said, “We will conduct a drive and take action against those found selling items for more than the MRP. We also conduct drives whenever we get a complaint.”