Man sues Reliance Retail which charged Rs 24.9 for carry bag, wins refund; court says its unfair trade practice

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Bengaluru: A Bengaluru resident recently won a case against India’s largest retailer Reliance Retail after he was forced to pay Rs 24.9 for a carry bag after shopping for items worth over Rs 2,000. 34-year-old Ravikiran C won the case against Reliance Retail in which the retailer had to cough up Rs 7,000 for unfair trade practice and violation of customer rights.
On July 10 this year, Ravikiran along with his wife made an unplanned visit to Reliance Smart Point at Nandini Layout on the way back from a temple. The couple bought groceries and other household items worth around Rs 2,007, however, they were left in shock after the salespersons at the billing counter asked them to pay Rs 24.9 for a carry bag.

The 34-year-old, who is an advocate himself, presented the legal aspects based on customer rights and argued against paying for the carry bag but he was eventually forced into buying the Rs 24.9 bag as he had to take home the goods.

Customer takes legal action against Reliance Retail

Ravikiran, however, knocked on the Bengaluru urban district consumer disputes redressal commission’s door and filed a complaint against Reliance Retail Limited and the manager of the Reliance Smart Point outlet for unfair trade practices. The advocate presented the case for himself in the litigation that commenced on July 16. A legal notice was served to Reliance, however, the major retail failed to appear, leading the court to declare it ex-parte.

During the hearing, the customer Ravikiran made a case for shopping malls giving carry bags for free as an intrinsic part of customer satisfaction criteria. Moreover, it is a criterion under the Customer Protection Act, he added that retailers should not always expect customers to carry bags with them. Ravikiran argued that the retail stores are bound to give a duty bag when purchases are made.

The distressed customer even stated that retailers are trying to take advantage of the ban on plastic bags and charging shoppers to carry bags to make money out of it. This is nothing but unfair trade practice and amounts to deficiency of service.

Violation of consumer rights

Ravikiran called it a clear violation of consumer rights and in the case of Reliance, he said that a carry bag with their logo is sold to a customer and they get publicity without spending a rupee.

The case was analyzed for nearly four months and the judges of the consumer forum lambasted Reliance Retail for not appearing before them despite a notice. It was indeed unfair trade practice to not grant customers free carry bags for their purchase when buyers are sometimes not even allowed to bring bags from outside, they noted.

The court went to state that it is the duty of the retail store to display messages stating that customers have to purchase bags, something that the outlet in question failed to do. A consumer has the right to know that there will be an additional cost stated for carrying bags before selecting goods for purchase, the court.

The verdict of the case was announced on November 4 in which the city consumer court ruled that Reliance Retail Limited must refund Rs 24.9 collected from the Bengaluru customer towards the carry bag. Reliance Retail was also asked to pay Ravikiran a compensation of Rs 5,000 and another Rs 2,000 towards his court expenses. The opposite party was told to comply with the order within 60 days.