The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Coimbatore has directed a restaurant to discontinue the practice of displaying its logo or name on packing materials or container, for which charges are being collected from consumers.
The Commission gave the direction last month, after hearing a petition filed by S. Sheik Mohammed of Siddhapudur in Coimbatore, who had purchased cashew fried rice as parcel from Shree Anandhaas (a unit of Ratnaa Shree Anandhaas Hotels Pvt Ltd) restaurant at Vadavalli on Maruthamalai Road on August 18 last year.
As per the bill, ₹165 was charged for the fried rice, ₹5.71 for the packing materials, ₹4.14 each under CGST and SGST, totalling ₹174.
Mr. Mohammed approached the consumer forum, alleging that the logo and name of the restaurant on the container amounts to using customers as marketing agents. He contended that the restaurant engaged in unfair trade practices by charging for a container, which bears its logo and name.
The restaurant argued that such containers are placed in carry bags given free of cost. As a result, the charged containers are not publicly displayed and the complainant was not used as an advertisement agent, since the containers are intended for destruction after consumption of food.
The Commission observed that when the container is opened for food consumption, it becomes visible to family members and friends, potentially leading to logo and name exposure. Moreover, the possibility of repurposing the empty container and its visibility during disposal could attract the attention of various people. Hence, it appears that the restaurant is effectively utilising consumers as advertising agents, the order said.
The Commission, comprising president R. Thangavel, members G. Suguna and P. Marimuthu, found that the restaurant resorted to unfair trade practices and directed it to discontinue the practice of displaying their logo or name on packing materials or containers, for which charges are being collected from consumers. The restaurant was asked to comply with the direction within a period of 30 days.
The restaurant was also directed to pay ₹10,000 as compensation to the complainant for the “mental agony” he suffered due to the unfair trade practice adopted by the former and ₹ 5,000 for the cost of the proceedings.