Restaurants often charge more than the maximum retail price (MRP) on water bottles which customers tend to ignore. However, a reminder that it is in fact an ‘unfair trade practice’ was made when Sarvi Hotel was asked to pay a customer Rs.20,000 by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-II for charging him Rs.40 for a bottle of mineral water instead of the MRP of Rs.20.

In his complaint, Mr. Kondaiah claimed that on being questioned, the manager of Sarvi had told him that charging over the MRP was the general practice. Sarvi Food Court in its defence quoted the ‘Principles of Hospitality Law’, a treatise authored by Michael John Boella and Alan Pannett, that a customer ‘is duty bound to pay the charges so perused by him in the menu card, and the customer is stopped from claiming that he was overcharged’.

After going through the entire set of evidence, the forum noted that Mr. Kondaiah had indeed visited the restaurant on 27 July, 2015. “The opposite party is entitled to fix any rate and maintain a menu card with the price list for the food products prepared by them, but in no way do they have any authority to charge a rate above the MRP rate for packaged goods,” it said in its ruling.

Pointing out that charging over the MRP violated the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules 2011, the forum directed Sarvi to pay Rs.20,000 to Mr. Kondaiah “towards damages for making illegal enrichment by charging excess amount from complainant/customers,” and to pay him the Rs.20 collected in excess and another Rs.5,000 in costs.

Courtesy: Times of India

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