After complaints of overcharging water bottles and milk packets by retailers, the recent complaint is that they are overcharging for even the mobile prepaid recharge coupons.
Several agents selling the recharge coupons or doing easy recharge for the mobiles in the city are demanding up to Rs 3 over the maximum retail price (MRP).
In some recharge shops, the shopkeepers have even posted notices asking the customers to kindly bear with the additional cost.
They put the blame on the telecom companies for reducing the commission forcing them to charge the customers more.
“The mobile service companies have reduced the commission of retailers drastically. We cannot meet our needs with such meagre commission. Hence, we are charging Rs 1 more for the recharge coupons. Please do understand our situation and kindly co-operate,” read one such notice pasted at a shop in Kodambakkam.
“With the commission offered by the companies, I can’t even pay the rent for my shop. Now most of my regular customers understand this and pay me the amount,” said the retailer. While, in this shop the additional charge Rs 1, several other shops in the city demand Rs 2 or Rs 3 more.
The retailers say just few years ago the telecom companies were offering 7 percent of the amount as commission. But, they reduced it to 3.3 percent in the last one-and-half year.
“All the telecom companies offer the same percentage as commission. So it is apparent that the companies have formed a syndicate in this issue,” says J Jahir Hussain, state president of Tamil Nadu Cell Phone Recharge Dealers Association.
About a year ago, the association called for a state-wide strike demanding higher commission.
But, the strike was unsuccessful as the telecom companies did not pay heed to their demands. Hussain said that the association was against overpricing the customers. “If we do business for Rs 1,000, it fetches just Rs 33. Just calculate the rental and the manpower costs today. It will be impossible for us to meet even the running costs with this meagre commission. So, I ask Rs 2 more than the MRP from my customers,” says another shopkeeper at T Nagar.