If you ever had an inkling that there was a fault with the weighing machine at a jewellery store or any other shop which has such measuring devices, your hunch might not be off the mark.
Continuous drives conducted by the metrology department have revealed the disturbing trend of weighing machines being tampered with, ultimately resulting in loss of net worth for purchasers.
“The jewellery stores are supposed to have a seal on their electronic weighing machine at the time of its installation. However, that is not being followed. Instead of keeping the scale at zero, some jewellers simply set it to minus when they purchase gold from outsiders and increase it when they sell the gold, garnering more profits for themselves,” RP Thakur, controller of Legal Metrology said at a press conference Wednesday.
His department has booked over 1,000 cases over the past few months against various establishments such as shopping malls, jewellery stores, fair price shops, theatres and dry fruit shops.
One of the biggest kind of cheating done by stores is selling packaged goods at a cost higher than the maximum retail price (MRP).
This malpractice gets a new twist with stores like Bharathi Walmart, Metro, Big Bazaar, etc putting their own MRP stickers, which, though higher than the original amount, is offered to customers at a discount! “We also found that there was no MRP sticker on their goods from the manufacturer. We will enquire about that as well. If found guilty, they too will be booked and fined,” Thakur explained.
The hoodwinking is not limited to big, corporate stores. Several cases were booked even at Rythu bazaars, petrol pumps, vegetable and fruit markets, sweets shops etc after the raids. “Even at bus stands, railway stations and airports, they cannot charge in excess of MRP. In one instance, we booked a case at the airport where a beer bottle costing `60 was being sold for more than `200,” pointed out Thakur, adding that there are provisions for charging more at such places, but the MRP should be inclusive of it all.
What’s The Penalty?
The penalty is quite heavy for offenders. While the fine amount ranges anywhere between `2,000 and 25,000, the cases are booked on the number of offences, hence taking the final number into lakhs. The remaining goods with faulty MRPs are sealed off by the department. “In the most recent incident, where we found set top boxes being sold at higher prices. We seized 1500 boxes worth `42 lakh. On top of it, no MRP was printed on them. We will check with the distributor if the goods actually come from China, as claimed by the distributors. Perhaps they have not printed anything to avoid taxes,” Thakur said.
In such cases of cheating, a second offence will result in a court case. There are 70 such cases pending in courts, and 50 out of them pertain to petrol pumps. “The pumps are allowed to sell 20 ml less per five liters, but many owners set the metres to 20 ml less itself and then reduce the final sale by another 20 ml per five liters,” Thakur explained.
Smell Something Fishy?
Customers who think they are being cheated can inform the legal metrology through its helpline number ‘18604253333’ or can send their grievance through an SMS to 9490165619. The complaints can also be emailed to email@example.com.