Nasty surprise in soft drink bottle

Realtor purchases soft drink only to discover a sachet of pan masala floating inside the sealed bottle; upset over contamination, files complaint with consumer court demanding Rs 5 lakh from company

When 27-year-old realtor Vinay Kumar bought a soft drink from a departmental store close to where he works, little did he know what awaited him within the sealed bottle.

Kumar was shocked to see a sachet of a pan masala submerged in the contents of the popular brand of aerated soft drink. He immediately wrote to the customer care team of PepsiCo complaining about his discovery.

Vinay Kumar with the Pepsi bottle containing the sachet of pan masala

Post his mail to the company, his phone started ringing continuously as frantic officials from the company tried to convince him to hand over the bottle. The troubled consumer first headed to the Consumer Court to file a complaint against the company.

"Officials of the consumer court told me that they receive around three such complaints against aerated drink companies every month.

I have encountered this for the very first time. I am shocked and I was almost going to open the bottle when I saw this packet of Gutka floating about within.

I have slapped a case of Rs 5 lakh against PepsiCo, as I could have easily been affected had I drunk out of the contaminated bottle," said Kumar.

Company speak
Reacting immediately, PepsiCo India spokesperson claimed that the company ensures that all statutory and regulatory requirements are followed diligently.

"We would need to analyse the product to find out if it is spurious to thereafter take corrective measures. We are in touch with the customer, who has not yet shared the bottle with us.

We would like to reassure everyone that PepsiCo has the most stringent quality control at all points and our products are made to global PepsiCo specifications," said India Spokesperson, PepsiCo.

Meanwhile, officials from the consumer court further affirmed that such cases are on the rise and guilty companies often end up paying up the consumer's desired amount of compensation.

"There are certain slab systems while filing a complaint against a particular company. These companies are often lax with conducting checks. They should keep customer safety as their priority.

We have filed a case of negligence as this could have easily been a life-threatening situation. PepsiCo will have to pay the consumer if found to be guilty of negligence," said Mahesh Kumar, Case Assistant, Consumer Court.

Addressing the matter, PepsiCo clarified that such previous cases have been brought to their notice too.

"In the past, we have come across incidents of spurious products being manufactured by certain unscrupulous parties.

The company has taken effective steps to check the menace of spurious products for the safety health of the consumer and also the company's goodwill and reputation.

Further, we have in the past taken help of the police in conducting raids against such people, so that the menace is addressed and will continue keeping a vigilant eye on this issue," assured the official spokesperson.

While Kumar refuses to budge from his stance, the consumer court will now be holding a hearing between both the parties to solve the matter.

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