The Consumer Forum has directed Pizza Hut, PepsiCo India and a private firm to pay Rs 10,000 to a resident of Uttarakhand and deposit Rs 2 lakh in the Poor Patient Welfare Fund of PGIMER as penalty for selling a 600 ml bottle of Pepsi for Rs 53 at Pizza Hut when the complainant bought the same at Rs 32 from another shop.
The complainant, Anshul Goel, visited a Pizza Hut franchise at Sector 15 and purchased edibles, including Pepsi, and paid Rs 212 including Rs 53.33 for a 600 ml Pepsi bottle. Realising that he had been overcharged for the Pepsi 600 ml, Goel bought a similar bottle of Pepsi from Moti Provision Store, Sector 15, for Rs 32. Finding two different prices for the same bottle of Pepsi, Goel lodged a complaint at the consumer forum, calling it unfair trade practice.
The Pizza Hut, Devyani International Ltd, in reply stated that the law did not bar anyone from fixing different MRPs on the same product/commodity to be sold at a selected channel and also there was no bar on the manufacturer or packer or importer to declare different maximum retail prices on identical pre-packaged commodities till date and their outlet was a restaurant providing various extra facilities to its guests such as furniture to sit and enjoy their food, music and entertainment to enjoy their time on their premises which is not a public area and entry was restricted at their discretion and hence, they were well within its right to charge a price for the said services.
Pepsico, meanwhile, filed a reply stating that the price of the Pepsi bottle was not fixed or regulated by law for the time being in force and the manufacturers had complete freedom to fix the price of their product while Varun Beverages Limited, a private importer of Pepsi, stated that the cost of the packaged beverages, manufactured by them, was not fixed or regulated by any law and therefore, they had complete freedom to fix the price of its products and the bottles bearing higher MRP which were meant for sale at ‘select channels’ and the remark of For Sale at Select Channels was clearly printed on the bottles.
After hearing the arguments, the Forum observed as “…whenever there is different price fixation for a similar/identical goods/services, it is done under certain policy or policies so framed, which is/are made known to the public at large e.g. for supply of service of electricity, different slabs/tariffs have been set up for commercial & domestic consumption…., in present complaint no such policy document has been brought on record by the OPs nor any declaration has been made to the public at large about charging of different rates for the same commodity/product from different types of customers…”
The Forum order also reads “…it transpires that there is mutual arrangement among all the opposite parties No.1 to 3 having a target to generate exorbitant profit at the cost of gullible consumers by befooling them without disclosing the reasonableness for affixing the dual price….”
Mentioned on the label of For Sale at Select Channels, the Forum observed that the product sold at CSD canteens/outlets always bear the remark, For CSD Canteen Only, but still the MRP (Maximum Retail Price) on the said product always remained the same as of the identical product available in the open market and does not have different rates. Thus, imprinting ‘For Sale at Select Channels’ on the bottles do not justify the unfair act of the opposite parties as genuine.