LMD warns duty-free shop at Mumbai international airport not to inflate bills, after producer’s complaint

Benaifer Kohli, producer of TV serial Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain, approached LMD after her bill was allegedly increased by Rs20

mumbai Updated: Mar 12, 2018 00:02 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,duty-free shop,Mumbai international airport
The LMD said any rounding off of the bill amount has to be done for the benefit of the customer, not the seller.(HT)

The Duty Free Shop (DFS) at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) has been warned by the Legal Metrology Department (LMD) not to give inflated bills to customers on purchases on the pretext of rounding off to the nearest hundred on the higher side. The LMD issued the warning following a complaint made recently by Benaifer Kohli, the producer of popular Hindi television serial Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain.

In a sternly worded letter to the DFS (HT is in possession of a copy), controller, LMD, Amitabh Gupta said the practice was a gross violation of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) rules, which prohibit sale of any packaged commodity beyond the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

“If any round off is required, it has to be done for the benefit of the consumer, and not the seller,” read the letter issued by Gupta. Copies of the letter have been forwarded to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Chief Executive Officer at the Mumbai international Airport and other relevant authorities. “This practice at the DFS should stop,” Gupta told HT.

In an e-mail response, a spokesperson for DFS, who said the official nomenclature is Mumbai Duty Free, said,” As per our records, we have no complaint from said customer. On further investigation, we found the matter was resolved at the store itself. We believe in fair practice and strive to provide best value to our esteemed customers.”

The spokesperson also claimed that the company had responded to the “non-specific” query to the said authority (LMD) satisfactorily.

However, Gupta said on Saturday that no response has been received from DFS on his letter so far.

Inspector NM Goswami, who heads the LMD’s Vile Parle office (covering areas including the international airport), told HT that the incident occurred in January this year when Kohli returned to Mumbai from Dubai where she had gone on a business trip.

After landing at the international airport, Kohli went to the DFS at the new integrated terminal, T-2 and purchased a few packets of chocolates. The attendant at counter No 1 at the DFS allegedly gave Kohli a bill of Rs8,600 though the printed price (Maximum Retail Price) on the pack (in USD) was of Rs8,580.

When Kohli demanded an explanation on how Rs8,580 was increased to Rs8,600 in the bill and asked for her money back, the attendant allegedly told her that it was on account of the calibration of the machine (in USD exchange), and it does not take decimal fractions into account and rounds off the amount to the next decimal number. “The DFS staff told her that the error was on account of converting foreign currency into INR,” Goswami said.

When Kohli persisted, the DFS staff finally returned the money to her while giving some discount on another purchase. However, Kohli, who had recorded the entire incident on her mobile phone, later made an oral complaint before LMD controller Gupta, along with the supportive documents.

When contacted, Kohli said, “I did my duty as a citizen of the country to inform the goings on at the DFS.”

Meanwhile, noted consumer activist, Indrani Malkani alleged that the practice of fleecing consumers under the pretext of rounding off the bill is endemic to commercial outlets across airports. “The customer gets a double whammy when he/she pays by credit card. On one hand he is paying service charge to the card issuing company, while on the other, the shop is fleecing by rounding off the bill on the higher side,” she said. “Even though the extra money charged is nominal, taking into account every day thousands of people make purchases from these outlets, the total amount will be phenomenal. This should stop for once and for all.”

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 17:41 IST