Check MRP on package, don't pay a rupee more: Ministry advises consumers

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 11:35 IST | Shashank Rao

Ministry issues notification announcing strict action against not just stadiums, but even airports, five-star hotels and other eating joints found selling packaged commodities at dual prices

The LMO has said the rule would be applicable to all civic body-graded eating houses/permit rooms, as well as star hotels selling alcohol, cold drinks and packaged commodities. Representational Pic
The LMO has said the rule would be applicable to all civic body-graded eating houses/permit rooms, as well as star hotels selling alcohol, cold drinks and packaged commodities. Representational Pic

If it has an MRP, it’s fixed. Now on, don’t let any vendor force or fool you into paying more for cold drinks, food items or any packaged commodity that has an MRP on it.

The Legal Metrology Department, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food Distribution, has decided to take strict action against anyone found selling packaged goods at dual prices.

Notification rules
A ministry notification states: “It is observed that at hotels, restaurants, dhabas, airports, railway stations, and other public outlets, sale of pre-packaged commodities at dual prices (is happening), which is a violation of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, and Legal Metrology Act, 2009.”

The practice of charging more than the fixed retail price has been going on for a long time with consumers asked to pay R1 or R2 more than the MRP on the grounds that the item is being given chilled, and hence, the additional cost is for the electricity required for the same. People too have been ignoring this nominal overcharging.

The notification states that there cannot be two MRPs, and hence, they will take immediate action against those found indulging in this.

In defence
Sources in the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (AHAR), however, said the practice is as per the service provided. “If the sale of a packaged bottle is across the counter, the hotel should charge on MRP. But then, we also provide service through our waiters, and there’s the ambience; all that comes at a cost,” said a member of AHAR.

They claimed city hotels pay value-added tax and service tax on alcohol and other packaged products over the MRP. In five-star hotels, these taxes take the cost to almost 43 per cent above the MRP. 

The Legal Metrology Organisation, however, said the rule would be applicable to all municipal corporation-graded eating houses/permit rooms, as well as star hotels selling alcohol, cold drinks and packaged commodities.

'A welcome move'
The Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) has hailed the decision and said that it is also starting a complaint helpline for people who are victims of this practice. “Consumers asked to pay inflated MRPs at airports, hotels, multiplexes should complain to the Legal Metrology department,” said Shirish Deshpande, MGP. 

Sources added that hotels and restaurants sell items at a higher price even after levying service tax. Also, if someone orders a bottle of alcohol, it should be charged at MRP as it is inclusive of taxes, they said.

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