Kumar, in his complaint to the commission on May 10, 2019, said that he purchased a grocery item from the Respondent’s outlet for a sum of Rs 138 on March 24, 2019. In addition to the cost of the product, the outlet charged an extra Rs 4 for the carry bag which had a company brand logo endorsement.
The company in its response argued that the complainant was specifically informed at the cashier counter that if he requested a carry bag he would have to pay a sum of Rs 4. The policy is designed to induce consumers to carry their own bag and reuse bags to avoid deforestation and environmental damage. Further, the Complainant was specifically asked if he wanted to purchase the carry bag at an additional cost and only when the Complainant agreed, the bag was provided and he was charged Rs 4.
Plaintiff’s counsel, however, argued that no notice was posted prominently in the opposing party’s showroom indicating that the price of the carrier bag would be charged to the plaintiff and that this amounted to a default. of service as well as an unfair commercial practice.
On the other hand, opposing counsel argued that the plaintiff had voluntarily purchased the carrier bag and therefore could not be said to have been improperly charged the price of the carrier bag.
Referring to the case of Big Bazaar (Future Retail Limited) v Ashok Kumar (Supra), the commission held that if a trader intends to deviate from the past practice of providing free carrier bags to the customer , it is required to give sufficient notice to the consumer before he makes his choice to frequent a particular point of sale and if such prior notice is not given and the fact of loading the transport bag is disclosed to the complainant at the payment counter only, this amounts to causing harassment and embarrassment to the consumer, which amounts to unfair trade and a deceptive practice.
Also in the present case, it is not the case of the opposing party that such a notice regarding the charging of the price of the carrier bag was prominently displayed in its showroom, nor is such a thing was mentioned in the affidavit submitted by the opposing party. The commission observed that, therefore, under the law established by the National Commission in Big Bazaar (Future Retail Limited) v Ashok Kumar (Supra), the opposing parties could not have charged the amount of Rs 4 to the plaintiff because the complainant was being asked at the payment counter after having already made the purchase.