There can’t be two MRPs for the same product, the District Consumer Disputes Commission, Mohali, ruled while imposing one €2 lakh fine on a soft drink maker and a Zirakpur grocery chain for misconduct.
Next to the €2 lakh punitive damages to be paid by Kandhari Beverages Private Limited, Fatehgarh Sahib and Jubilant Food Works Limited into the Commission’s legal aid account, which they have also been ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation to the complainant for mental distress and harassment.
The order came after a complaint from Vaibhav Goyal, a resident of Sector 20, Panchkula, who had challenged different prices for the same Coca-Cola bottle made by Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited and Kandhari Beverages Private Limited.
Goyal had stated that he visited Paras Downtown Square in Zirakpur on August 17, 2017. There he went to the Jubilant Food Works Limited grocery store where he was asked to pay €60 for a Coca-Cola bottle which retails for an MSRP of €35 on the market.
“No ban on double pricing of products”
Kandhari Beverages and Jubilant Food Works moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that there is no prohibition on dual pricing of products.
“The products with higher MRP are made for highly rated outlets that invest heavily in providing their customers with a high level of convenience, and customers also take it as a ‘status symbol’ to buy and sit in highly rated food joints . In addition, the customer also enjoys the luxury, comfort and ambiance of the outlet,” they said.
Kandhari Beverages claimed that as a manufacturer they could set different prices for the same product for different consumers, a concept that has already been court-approved and recognized by law.
There can be no difference between customers: commission
The Commission dismissed the complaint, stating: “We cannot allow such a practice of companies creating differences between customers. We cannot accept this view that there can be two MRPs for the same product at which one is sold €60 and another at €35 in the common market.”
“It is also possible that the manufacturer (Kandhari Beverages Private Limited) profited illegally. Such types of tampering are prohibited and will be referred to as misconduct under the new Consumer Protection Act,” the order, made available on February 17, reads.
The Commission dismissed the allegations against Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, saying: “Large punitive damages are being awarded to the manufacturer and the grocery store to discourage them from engaging in such wrongdoing. In addition, they have made huge amounts of unjustified gains at the expense of unhappy consumers.”