A Maharashtra District Consumer Commission has ordered Big Bazaar, a subsidiary of Future Retail Ltd, to compensate a customer Rs 1,500 for a cotton bag used to carry goods purchased at one of its outlets.
The Commission's bench, which included President Nilima Sant and members Neeta Kankariya and Manjusha Chitlange, recently ordered the retail chain to submit details of a personal accident insurance policy for which they had charged the customer.
According to Ashwini Dhanavat's complaint, who is a lawyer by profession, she was charged separately for a cotton bag to carry the purchases she made at Big Bazaar's Aurangabad outlet on December 17, 2020. It was also claimed that there was nothing on display in the store informing customers that they would need to purchase a bag separately to transport the things they were purchasing.
She also claimed that she was charged Rs 2.33 and Rs 2.36 for a personal accident insurance policy on a different invoice on December 17 and also on a subsequent visit to the same retailer on December 21, 2020. The complaint, filed in January 2021, claimed that she was not asked for authorization to charge for the insurance coverage, nor were she given any facts about the policy.
Because the complainant lived in Jalna, the complaint was filed with the Jalna Commission, which included all of the invoices.
According to the Commission's order, the respondent Big Bazaar (Future Retail Ltd) neglected to appear before it despite the Commission's notice or file a response opposing the complaint, therefore the case was determined ex-parte.
Concerning the personal accident insurance policy, the Commission noted that the invoice said that the coverage was only available to "future pay customers," and that customers would get policy information via SMS "shortly." The Commission noted that the complaint had not specified whether she was a "future pay" customer or not, nor if she had received any information by SMS, thus it declined to issue any orders on that basis. It did order the outlet to give Dhanavat all of the information.
The Commission, on the other hand, based its decision on a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ruling against the same party, which stemmed from a case brought before the Chhattisgarh Consumer Commission. The problem in that case was comparable to the one being decided in the current case, according to the Jalna Commission order.
The NCDRC emphasised in that order that the seller should bear all costs associated with bringing goods into deliverable condition. The NCDRC order stated the following:
"We cannot expect that for every single item intended to be purchased by the customer, he needs to carry separate carry bag because customer is not allowed to enter the shop with his own bag. So, no option is left except to buy the bag along with goods. By not allowing customer to take own carry bag in shop premises, and thrusting its own carry bag against consideration, the appellant is deficient in providing service and also indulged into unfair trade practice."
Big Bazaar had been ordered by the NCDRC to halt this practise completely.
Even in that order, the Jalna Consumer Commission noted that no enough prominent notice was given before making the purchase, and that the carry bag was offered at the payment counter without revealing its specifications after the buyer had selected all the things he or she wished to buy. "This puts customer to embarrassment and harassment and this practice is unfair and deceptive," the NCDRC order said.
The Jalna Consumer Commission noticed that everything else in the current instance remained the same, save for supplying bag specifications in the invoice, and that this amounted to a failure in service, and ordered that the consumer be compensated with Rs 1,500.