Many traders have been found violating the stipulated norms and selling items surreptitiously thus causing loss to gullible customers, writes M. Srinivas

Next time when you visit a nearby shop for purchasing hardware and electrical items to install them in your dream home under construction or replace them with defunct installations in your existing house, think twice.

Going by the number of cases registered by the Legal Metrology Department in the year 2010-2011, many traders have been found violating the stipulated norms and selling items surreptitiously thus causing loss to gullible customers. Hardware items such as taps, bolts, locks and other material used in washrooms are to be sold as packaged commodity and even electrical items like wire bundles, plugs, switches etc., too come in the same format.

Rules stipulate that these packaged commodities should contain the complete address of the manufacturer, name of the commodity coupled with the number of items packed in it and the month and year of packaging. It is also mandatory that the manufacturer mention the maximum retail price (MRP) for the convenience of customers. But, many traders have been found to be selling these goods in ‘brazen’ violation of norms. “It’s nothing but false packaging and customers are advised not to purchase these as it may contain spurious items,” explains City Assistant Controller, Legal Metrology, P.S.R.N.T Swamy. The fraud came to light when officials of the department conducted random raids at hardware shops across the State.

Some shopkeepers were selling hardware and electrical items even without mentioning the warranty period. Explaining the modus operandi of the shop owners, officials say that traders convince buyers saying that a commodity without details of the manufacturer are available at a lesser price when compared to those sold with the prescribed norms. In the confusion, several buyers fell into the shopkeepers trap and purchase as suggested by them, they point out.

In case of cement, customers have to thoroughly check the net content of the bag apart from verifying details of the manufacturer, date of package and warranty period. They should also insist the shop owner to measure the weight of the bag before delivering it. If there is any shortage, then buyers can lodge a complaint with the officials concerned.

According to senior officials, the department has booked 2,182 cases related to hardware items, 1,774 (electrical), 843 (steel), 357 (cement) and 195 (timber) during 2010-11. These cases were registered under various provisions of Andhra Pradesh Legal Metrology Act 2009. A penalty of Rs.25,000 was collected from each violator for the first two offences and a charge-sheet would be filed in the court concerned for the third consecutive crime. For assistance and information, consumers can dial the helpline: 1-860-425-3333 or email: ‘apcolm@gmail.com’. Consumers can call the helpline when they find that the commodity purchased by them is short weighed by a faulty or sub-standard weighing machine. They can also complain when the commodity name, its quantity, date of manufacture and sale price is not mentioned on the package, besides the price printed on the package is altered, smudged or changed to the trader’s advantage.

If the electrical and electronic goods purchased do not provide information like voltage, wattage and standards in terms of BIS mark on the package, in such instances also the buyers can contact the helpline.

More In: Habitat | Features