The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission dismissed the appeal filed by the retail store Westside, at Elante Mall, seeking to set aside a Consumer Forum order directing them to provide free carry bags to all customers.
A Panchkula resident, Sapna Vasudev, had purchased garments from the store and the cashier handed over the items put in a paper carry bag bearing advertisement name of the shop in big letters and logo. On reaching home, Vasudev found that the Westside store had charged Rs 10 for the carry bag. She filed a case against the store at the forum, which ordered Westside to provide free carry bags to all customers who, and to pay Rs 3,000 to complainant, along to deposit Rs 10,000 in the “Consumer Legal Aid Account”.
Westside, however, filed an appeal against the Forum order. They argued that after ban on polythene/plastic bags, they provide high quality, environmentally safe paper bags in all its stores. The purchase of paper carry bags, at all points of time, is entirely optional on the customer, they argued.
While in adherence to the store policy across country, the purchaser was informed of the cost of carry bag by the representative at the counter and upon obtaining purchaser’s consent, they provide with the store’s carry bag and charged for the same, whereas the purchaser could have refused to purchase the bag, Westside store said in their appeal.
The counsel for Vasudev, Advocate Pankaj Chandgothia argued that it is nowhere displayed in the shop premises that the paper carry bags given by the store are against payment and the customers can carry the goods purchased from the store in their own carry bags or they are allowed to bring their own carry bags inside the showroom.
The commission after hearing to the arguments of the counsels held, “…the argument raised is totally absurd and vague and against the interest of consumers. On one hand, purchase of carry bags is made optional and voluntary and on the other hand, the consumer is not allowed to enter the shop with empty carry bag or carry bag containing some goods purchased from other shop premises. By adopting above practice, the appellant/opposite party (Westside) left the complainant with no other option with her but to buy the carry bag along with the goods purchased, to carry such goods from the shop-premises…”, read the judgement released on April 8.
While dismissing the appeal of Westside, the Commission in the judgement held, “…One cannot be expected to take the goods/garments purchased in hands. We are shocked to see the kind of services provided by these big malls or showrooms.On one side huge discounts are given ranging up-to 70% on the products by these shops/showrooms etc. and on the other hand, they are charging for a carry bag and could not give it free of cost to its worthy consumers….”