All packaged goods in India, ranging from beverages to mobile phones to cosmetics, are stamped with a price dictated by the manufacturer as being the maximum allowable cost to the consumer.
Today’s version of MRP was adapted in December 1990. Previous to this date, manufacturer’s had the option of printing the price of their commodities in two ways:
- Retail price Rs, local taxes extra
- Maximum retail price Rs, inclusive of all taxes
Allegations from consumers and organizations that merchants were over-charging by adding additional local taxes on products brought about the change to MRP in 1990. Merchants were tacking on charges under the guise of local taxes when the actual rates were much lower. Consumers could pay one price for a product and a much higher or lower price in a neighboring town. Thus the change was made by the Ministry of Civil Supplies and its executive wing, the Department of Legal Metrology to the Standards of Weights & Measures Act (Packaged Commodities’ Rules). The change was meant to end complaints and confusion of over-charging to consumers for products. There have since been numerous complaints regarding this system of pricing with regards to under-charging of goods relative to MRP.
What does this mean for you?
In theory you should check the MRP on products before purchasing. Some merchants will charge less than the printed price at their discretion. If this happens to me, I make a mental note to return to that store in the future. On the opposite side, some merchants will try to charge more. If questioned, you may get a response that a newer stock has since come into their store with a revised MRP under which they are selling the old stock. While this is not allowable, there isn’t much you can do unless the merchant feels you aren’t willing to ease on the lower price. Another tactic to watch for is a merchant quoting you a price which he/she will then offer a discount on. Being giddy about the prospect of receiving a discount, you may not check the MRP until you’ve reached your destination. Unwrap your item to discover the MRP is actually less than the discounted price you paid.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Obtain full information regarding quality and price before making any purchases.
- Be careful, about false and /or misleading advertisement.
- Purchase only when you need and do not purchase in a hurry.
- Do not buy blindly. Demand full information before you buy.
- Do not compromise on the quality of goods and services and its quality. Purchase only quality products.
You can file a complaint with the District Forum if you feel you have been over-charged. However, the opposing party has 30 days to file their version of events and can even extend this for an additional 15 day period. As a tourist you have very little recourse legally unless you are a long term traveler in one location.
Do keep one thing in mind. As of 2003, hotels are not subject to the MRP act. Packed goods purchased within a hotel can be sold at the property’s discretion.
Keep your eyes open and always check prices cause your travel budget only goes so far.