Chandigarh: After Lifestyle Store in Elante Mall, now Westside stepped on the wrong side of the consumer law. It has been penalised with Rs 13,000 for wrongly charging Rs 10 for a carry bag. Westside was penalised with fine of Rs 10,000 to be deposited in the “Consumer Legal Aid Account” No.32892854721, maintained with the State Bank of India, Sector 7-C, Madhya Marg, Chandigarh, in the name of Secretary, Hon’ble State Commission UT Chandigarh. It has also been ordered to provide free carry bags to all customers, to refund to the complainant’s wrongly charged Rs 5 for the paper carry bag, a payment of Rs 1,500 for harassment and Rs 1,500 as litigation expenses.
In a complaint filed through Pankaj Chandgothia, a Panchkula resident Sapna Vasudeva said that she was charged Rs 10 for a carry bag by Westside store, needed for carrying the garments worth Rs 4,000 she had purchased from the store. It was contended that shopping carry bags are an inherent part of any shopping and these cannot be separately charged from a customer. Also, it was nowhere mentioned on the shop’s premises that it would charge for a carry bag.
The order authored by Forum Member, Surjeet Kaur reads: “The Opposite party has urged that the carry bag was given to the complainants only upon confirmation from them with respect to the purchase of the paper bag. However, we are not impressed with the same, in as much as if the cashier informed the complainants about the purchase of carry bag before billing, the same amounts to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service as it would have been very odd and inconvenient to the complainants to carry the new garments in hand throughout without a carry bag. In this backdrop, charges of such things (paper bags) cannot be separately foisted upon the consumers and would amount to overcharging.
The opposite party argued that post ban of plastic bags, it started providing paper bags to its customers on payment of its price. However, an argument raised on the banning of a product does not entitle the opposite party to charge for its substitute stated that Westside and all other shops like it are obliged to provide carry bags free of cost to carry the purchased items to their customers, as the customers cannot be expected to carry the items in hands.