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One biscuit less in pack, consumer forum in TN directs ITC to pay Rs one lakh as compensation

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Sunfeast Marie Light biscuit ITC

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Tiruvallur (TN): The district consumer forum here has directed ITC Ltd Food Division to pay a sum of Rs one lakh to a consumer for alleged unfair trade practice after he complained that packets of the corporate's biscuit brand Sunfeast Marie Light had one biscuit lesser than that advertised on the wrapper.

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The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, in a recent order, also directed the company to "discontinue the selling of the disputed biscuits 'Sunfeast Marie Light' in Batch No.0502C36 with the specific endorsement." It dismissed the company's submission that the challenge made with regard to weight of biscuits would not apply. Complainant P Dillibabu of Chennai alleged there were only 15 biscuits inside the packets as against the advertised 16.

"It is argued by the learned counsel for the 1st opposite party (the company) that the product was sold only based on the weight and not on number of biscuits. Such arguments could not be accepted as the wrapper clearly provides the information to the buyers/consumers to purchase the product only based on the number of biscuits. The potential consumer would only see the wrapper to decide the purchase of the product as the product information available on the packing influences the consumer’s buying behavior and that the product information available on the wrapper or label plays a significant role in customer satisfaction," the order said. In the present case, the paramount allegation is only with regard to lesser number of biscuits.

"Thus we answer the point accordingly holding that the 1st opposite party being the manufacturer and marketer had committed unfair trade practice and deficiency in service in misleading the consumers and that the complainant had successfully proved the same by sufficient admissible evidence," it said.

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While Dillibabu sought imposing Rs 100 crore fine on the company and the store that sold it and Rs 10 crore as compensation for the alleged act of unfair trade practice and deficiency in service, it said the reliefs sought for by the complainant was exorbitant.

The 2nd opposite party being the shop keeper had no role to play with respect to reduction in the number of biscuits. "Hence, complaint dismissed against him," it said.

The consumer forum subsequently directed that Rs one lakh be given as compensation to Dillibabu by the company and another Rs 10,000 towards litigation expenses to be paid by it to him.

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In its defence, ITC submitted that there was no deficiency or defect in the 76-gram biscuit packs of Sunfeast Marie Light in terms of the quantity that the packs were required to maintain under law.

Citing Legal Metrology Rules 2011, it contended that if a pre-packaged commodity has a declared net quantity between 50 gram to 100 gram, then a maximum permissible error in excess or in deficiency of 4.5 gram of the declared quantity was allowed on such items.

As per the rules, a package that has a declared weight of 76 g was permitted to weigh between 71.5 g to 80.5 g, it said.

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