McDonald’s pulled up for overcharging on cold drink bottle

October 5th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) Leading fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s has been pulled up for “unfair trade practices” by a consumer court for overcharging on a coke bottle against the printed price and asked to compensate the consumer.Anupam Tripathi, a resident of Patparganj in east Delhi, had gone to McDonald’s in Preet Vihar in 2007 along with his family and ordered some burgers along with cold drinks.

He was shocked to find McDonald’s charging Rs.30 for a cold drink bottle against the printed price of Rs.20.

He approached the east Delhi district consumer grievances court which found the restaurant guilty of overcharging. The court directed the restaurant chain to refund Tripathi Rs.10 and also pay him Rs.2,000 as compensation and Rs.1,000 as cost of litigation.

McDonald’s challenged the court order at the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and stated that they had already revised the cold drink rates from Rs.20 to Rs.30 per bottle, which was reflected in the new menu. They told the Commission that the east Delhi consumer forum had referred to the old menu while passing the order.

The counsel for the restaurant contended that the consumer had placed on record the old menu card, which was revised on May 1, 2007, and the bottle was purchased a few days later, on May 10.

After hearing both the parties, the Commission dismissed the appeal filed by the restaurant chain and directed it to compensate Tripathi as directed by the district court.

Justice J.D. Kapoor, president of the Commission, ruled: “The very connotation printed on the packaged goods, namely Maximum Retail Price (MRP), leaves no manner of doubt that no trader can charge more than the price mentioned on the packaged good.”

“The conduct of the appellants (McDonald’s) squarely falls within the mischief of ‘unfair trade practice’ and ‘deficiency in service’ as they sold the article for a price which was more than the permissible maximum price,” he ruled.

In a similar ruling in 2005, a consumer forum had directed a restaurant in east Delhi to pay Rs.7,000 as compensation to a consumer for allegedly overcharging on a soft drink.

M/s Aman Aahar, a franchisee of Nirulas chain of restaurants, was found guilty of deficiency in service for charging a consumer Rs.35 for a soft drink bottle which had Rs.15 printed as the maximum retail price. Ankit Jain, the complainant, also got a refund of Rs.20 that was overcharged by the restaurant in November 2005.

Jain in his complaint said that he had placed a home delivery order with the restaurant in Mayur Vihar amounting to Rs.76, but when he received his order he found that a 500 ml bottle of cold drink had been billed at Rs.35 instead of Rs.20.

During arguments before the forum, the restaurant officials claimed they could charge more on orders in which food was delivered at the customer’s door steps.

The forum, however, disagreed with the contention and ordered Nirulas to pay punitive damages of Rs.25,000 in favour of the State Consumer Welfare Fund.

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