'Big Bazaar cannot charge for carry bags sans notice'

Consumer Commission orders Big Bazaar to stop charging for carry bags without notice

The apex consumer body dismissed a plea by the Future Retail Ltd that it had since dispensed with polythene and was using eco-friendly cloth

Shopping carts parked at the Big Bazaar retail store in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters Photo

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered Future Retail Ltd, running supermarket store 'Big Bazaar', to "forthwith discontinue its unfair trade practice of arbitrarily and highhandedly imposing additional cost of carry bags on the consumer at the time of making payment, without prominent prior notice and information". 

The Commission refused to intervene into the State Commission's order which upheld Chandigarh district forum's decision directing for payment of compensation to a group of buyers.

"As a matter of consumer rights, the consumer has the right to know that there will be an additional cost for carry bags before he exercises his choice of patronising a particular retail outlet and before he makes his selection of goods for purchase from the said retail outlet," Presiding member Dinesh Singh.

The apex consumer body dismissed a plea by the Future Retail Ltd that it had since dispensed with polythene and was using eco-friendly cloth instead and that it provided the cloth bags on a no-profit basis, as also not tenable.

"Carry bags, sold at a particular price to the consumer, are in themselves ‘goods’. It cannot be that the said goods (i.e. the carry bags) are imposed without disclosing their salient specifications, at fixed price, without prior notice or information that (additional) cost will be charged for them," it said.

After selection of goods, forcing carry bags on consumers causing "embarrassment and harassment" to them was "decidedly unfair and deceptive", it added.

The Commission ordered the Chief Executive Officer of the company to ensure necessary notice, signs, announcement, advertisement or warning that they have to pay extra for carry bags to enable the consumer to make his or her informed choice.