Are you being charged for carry bags? Here is what you should know

Mousumi Dash

Guwahati, June 19: Consumers can slap shopping malls and other retailers with a penalty of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 if shopkeepers ask for extra money for carry bags, said an expert.

According to the Guwahati Plus news, big shopping malls in the city are still charging additional money from customers for carry bags, starting from Rs 5 to Rs 20 for each bag.

Manjit Kumar Das, advocate, Guwahati High Court and Consumer Court, was quoted by News18 as saying, "Since March 2018, it was made illegal for shopkeepers or shopping malls to charge extra money from consumers for plastic bags or paper bags or any kind of bags. Case can be filed before the Consumer Redressal Forum just by submitting an application. The Forum will issue a notice on the basis of that application."

In order to file a case at the Consumer Court, which is situated in every district, the complainant has to submit an application along with the bill of his/her purchase.

The consumer can even ask for compensation for the metal torture they have to bear from the shopkeepers and these complaints can be filed online as well.

Earlier, this year in January, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Chandigarh has imposed a penalty of Rs 13,000 on a leading retail store for charging Rs 5 from a consumer for giving a paper carry bag to carry items that were shopped at the store. In its decision, the consumer forum had clearly stated that charging for the carry bag from a consumer amounts to deficiency in service and indulgence in unfair trade practices. It had also directed the Lifestyle store to provide free shopping bags to customers and ordered them to refund Rs 5 to the complainant, which was wrongly charged.

According to a TOI report, the consumer welfare associations said that the Chandigarh consumer commission's order applies across the nation. "Even Madurai district consumer forum recently passed a similar order. Spirit of such orders can be taken as a precedent," S Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, said. The consumer protection council said that they can be contacted over phone at 93451-01216 if any consumer needs support to approach consumer court. Meanwhile, the labour department maintained that the practice followed by retail outlets is out of its purview. An official earlier said, "We can act only if the outlet makes it mandatory to purchase the carry bag. Since it is optional, we cannot do much with the existing laws."

According to a TOI report, the consumer welfare associations said that the Chandigarh consumer commission's order applies across the nation. "Even Madurai district consumer forum recently passed a similar order. Spirit of such orders can be taken as a precedent," S Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, said. The consumer protection council said that they can be contacted over phone at 93451-01216 if any consumer needs support to approach consumer court. Meanwhile, the labour department maintained that the practice followed by retail outlets is out of its purview. An official earlier said, "We can act only if the outlet makes it mandatory to purchase the carry bag. Since it is optional, we cannot do much with the existing laws."

In cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and etc, shopping malls charges extra for plastic bags, paper bags or any kind of bags. The prices starting from Rs 5 to Rs 20 for each bag. However, public keeps crying foul over shops charging for carry bags but retail stores continue to charge for carry bags from customers. Shopping malls in every city have failed to learn a lesson from orders of consumer court.

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