Charging for Carry Bags Amounts to Unfair Trade Practice as per Consumer Forum Rules

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This decision was delivered by a bench comprising of President Rattan Singh Thakur and members Suresh Kumar Sardana and Surjeet Kaur who explicitly stated that giving a carry bag is essential for purchase of the product and that charging for the same would constitute unfair trade practice.

District Consumer Disputes Redressal forum of Chandigarh recently declared in a case filed against shoe manufacturer, Bata that it cannot its consumers for carry bags on purchase of products. This decision was delivered by a bench comprising of President Rattan Singh Thakur and members Suresh Kumar Sardana and Surjeet Kaur who explicitly stated that giving a carry bag is essential for purchase of the product and that charging for the same would constitute unfair trade practice.

Bata on the other hand in its defence contended that the additionally priced paper carry bags were introduced in the interest of environmental protection but the order passed stated that charging money for the carry bags would amount to minting the customer’s money. In the order, it was further stated that Bata had started an unfair practice by compelling the complainant a carry bag worth Rs.3 along with the product. The Forum also added that if the Opposite party that is Bata was an environmental activist, he should have given the carry bag to the complainant free of cost.

Case Background

A complaint was filed by Dinesh Parshad Raturi in February this year regarding Bata which billed him Rs.402 for the pair of shoes whose actual cost was Rs.399 but Rs.3 was charged for the carry bag. This act of the Opposite Party, Bata aggrieved the complainant who in turn submitted before the consumer forum that he had no intention of purchasing the carry bag but still he was charged for the same. The complainant further argued that by making him purchase the bag, the company was using him as an advertising agent for Bata at the cost of his own funds.

The Court further in its order stated that the Bata Company was using its customers as advertisement agents as the carry bag had “Bata Surprisingly Stylish” printed on it in red colour. Finally the Court concluded that Bata must provide free carry bags to its customers and directed it to refund Mr.Raturi for the amount and on top of that pay Rs.3000 as compensation and Rs.1000 as legal expenses. Another amount of Rs.5000 was imposed on Bata as punitive costs.

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