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Beware of festive offers this season

How much do 25 and 25 add up to? Well, if you are doing some simple additions, it's 50. But if you are looking at a retailer's 'sale' banner, then the answer is 43! Pushpa Girimaji writes.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2012 23:12 IST
Pushpa Girimaji
Pushpa Girimaji
Hindustan Times

How much do 25 and 25 add up to? Well, if you are doing some simple additions, it's 50. But if you are looking at a retailer's 'sale' banner, then the answer is 43! Here's how: first he reduces the price by 25% and on that price, he gives a further discount of 25%, which adds up to 43 and not 50% as you would imagine!

Sometime ago, a reader complained about how he went to a store to avail of the "50% plus 40%" discount offer, believing it to be a whopping 90%. It's only at the time of paying the bill did he get to know that 50 plus 40 meant 70 and not 90. He says he protested and walked out without buying. "I felt that the retailer was deliberately misrepresenting facts and I did not like it," he said.

Well, the season of "sale" has just begun and you will soon find manufacturers and retailers coming up with a variety of offers to push up their sales graph -festival discounts, free gifts, lucky draws- some may be genuine, but most of them are not and you really need to dissect them to know the truth. Search for hidden costs, look out for outdated models that may come packaged as free gifts, check the prices to see if there has been a pre-festival hike (to cover up the cost of the so-called free gift). In short, be an alert, discerning consumer.

A friend recently went to an electronic shop that offered "the lowest price on interest-free installments", both the claims turned out to be false. After he chose the model and went to pay, he found in his bill "an EMI transaction fee of R1,000". He said, "The interest-free installment was a hoax, I actually ended up paying 9% interest, except that it was disguised as EMI transaction fee." He also found out later that he could have got it at a much lower price elsewhere.

So before making your purchase decision on the basis of these allurements, I would suggest that you do a thorough background research. The internet can be your greatest friend here. And remember, under the Consumer Protection Act, making false or misleading claims about a bargain sale or not selling at the price advertised, constitutes under unfair trade practice (UTP). In fact adoption of any unfair methods or deceptive or unfair practices to promote the sale of a product comes under the definition of UTP and a consumer who suffers on account of such practices can get compensation through the consumer courts.

Rajiv Kapila: I purchased a pair of shoes during a sale offer. However, after 40-45 days, the stitching of the shoes came apart and when I took it back to the retail outlet, they offered me a new pair, but at the regular price. I told them that to either give me a replacement from the same stock or give me another pair, but at the discounted price charged earlier. But they are not responding. My question is whether they could sell substandard goods under such sale schemes? What should I do now?

Whether it is a regular sale or a discount sale, the goods bought must be of reasonably good quality and fit for the purpose for which it is bought. If it turns out to be defective, then the consumer has a right to a defect-free replacement.

If the company does not respond positively to your complaint, you will have to approach the consumer court for relief.