Fleeced at malls? Time to strike back
By Rahul V Pisharody | Published: 14th December 2012 09:03 AM |
Have some weekend shopping to do? Think twice before visiting any malls! In fact, not just malls, but any stores for that matter.
It has been found many a time that old stock is being sold with new price tags and also many of the stores in the city are fleecing customers. These are some of the very common complaints received by the Andhra Pradesh Legal Metrology department.
The department, which recently raided over about 50 malls and stores in the city, had also slapped a fine of ` 5,000-25,000 after they were found to be indulging in price alteration, over charging and failing to display addresses of manufacturer or importer on the products. To list a few popular ones, the department officials name Prasad’s, GVK mall, Big Bazaars, Reliance malls, City Central mall etc in the city.
RP Thakur, controller of Legal Metrology, AP, explains, “anything relating to weights and measurements falls under the purview of our department. Excess pricing, under measurement, tampering of weighing machines etc are common complaints. Additional stickers on any products in order to sell old goods at new prices is an offense. First, we put a fine and if the same complaint comes to our notice for the second time, we register a legal case against the offender.”
A recent guideline issued by the government directs all the traders who pay Value Added Tax (VAT) and Turnover Tax (TOT), to keep an extra weighing balance to cross check the weight declared on the product or packaged good. Similarly, if you come across products especially Chinese goods with all the details of manufacturer/ importer in Chinese language, a complaint could be lodged.
So, how easy is lodging a complaint? Any complaint against an erring vendor or an autorickshaw with tampered meter, could be lodged with just a call to the department’s helpline at 1680-425-3333. According to K Bhaskar, assistant controller (flying squad), number of complaints for not filling due petrol for money paid is also common. “186 cases have been lodged and a fine of up to ` 50,000 has been collected from various dealers in the state this year for under-measurement in packaged edible oil. Up to 13 gram short filling is also not permissible,” he said.
The purview of the department extends to just about any trade involving weights and measurement, including fair price shops selling subsidized goods. About 321 cases have been lodged against autowallahs in the state for excess collection, meter tampering and seal tampering.
As many as 22,290 cases have been registered with the department till October this year compared to 21,279 in 2011. A penalty of Rs 848 lakh has been collected up to October 2012 compared to Rs 534 lakh last year.
The complaints could also be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Recalling a complaint received through e-mail, Bhasker, says, “last year, we received a complaint from an American passenger at Shamshabad airport. The weight of his baggage when he arrived at Hyderabad was more than that of what was recorded when he checked in back in the US”.
Faulty machines also fall under our purview, he adds. So, now you know what to do when your nearest grocery vendor or the biggest of the chain malls try to take you for a ride.