The consumer forum further ordered that the company pay Dillibabu one lakh in compensation...
Digital Desk: The district consumer forum in the city of Tiruvallur has ordered ITC Ltd Food Division to pay a consumer one lakh for alleged unfair trade practices after he complained that packs of the corporate biscuit brand Sunfeast Marie Light contained one biscuit fewer than that advertised on the wrapper.
In a recent judgement, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum also asked the corporation to "discontinue the selling of the disputed biscuits 'Sunfeast Marie Light' in Batch No.0502C36 with the specific endorsement." It rejected the company's argument that the weight of biscuits challenge would not apply.
P Dillibabu of Chennai filed a complaint alleging that the packs contained only 15 biscuits instead of the stated 16.
"The learned counsel for the first opposing party (the company) contends that the product was sold solely based on weight and not on the number of biscuits. Such arguments could not be accepted because the wrapper plainly instructs buyers/consumers to purchase the goods based solely on the amount of biscuits. The potential consumer would only see the wrapper to decide whether to buy the product because the product information available on the packaging influences the consumer's purchasing behaviour and the product information available on the wrapper or label plays a significant role in customer satisfaction," the order stated. In this case, the main claim is just about a lesser quantity of biscuits.
"Thus, we answer the point accordingly, holding that the first opposing party, being the manufacturer and marketer, had engaged in unfair trade practice and deficiency in service in misleading the consumers and that the complainant had successfully proven the same by sufficient admissible evidence," the ruling said.
While Dillibabu demanded a 100 crore punishment on the company and the store that sold it, as well as 10 crores in compensation for the alleged unfair trade, practise and inadequacy in service, the company claimed that the remedy sought by the complainant was unreasonable. The shopkeeper, the second opposing party, had no role in the reduction in the number of biscuits. "As a result, the complaint against him is dismissed," it said.
The consumer forum then ordered that the company pay Dillibabu one lakh in compensation and another 10,000 in litigation expenses.
In its defence, ITC asserted that there was no deficiency or fault in the 76-gram Sunfeast Marie Light biscuit packs in terms of the quantity needed by law.
According to Legal Metrology Rules 2011, if a pre-packaged commodity has a declared net quantity between 50 and 100 grams, a maximum permitted mistake in excess or deficit of 4.5 grams of the declared quantity is allowed.
According to the guidelines, a package with a claimed weight of 76 g was allowed to weigh between 71.5 g and 80.5 g.