Consumer Wins Case Against ITC for Missing Biscuit
A seemingly trivial incident involving a missing biscuit has cost Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) major ITC a staggering Rs 1 lakh. The incident unfolded when a Chennai-based resident, P Dillibabu, purchased a packet of ITC’s popular Sunfeast Marie Light biscuits in December 2021.
The Missing Biscuit Mystery
What initially appeared as a minor inconvenience turned into a legal battle when Dillibabu discovered that the packet, which was supposed to contain 16 biscuits, only held 15. Puzzled and dissatisfied with the situation, Dillibabu took matters into his own hands and reached out to both the local store and ITC for an explanation.
However, despite his efforts, he received no satisfactory response, as reported by the Times of India. Frustrated with the lack of accountability, Dillibabu decided to file a formal complaint with a consumer court.
“Each biscuit costs 75 paise,”
Dillibabu noted in his complaint, highlighting the economic impact of the missing biscuit. He further elaborated that ITC, a colossal producer of biscuits, manufactures a staggering 50 lakh packets per day.
Based on these staggering numbers, he argued that the company was potentially cheating consumers out of a substantial Rs 29 lakh every single day.
The Legal Battle
ITC, in its defense, contended that biscuits were sold based on weight, not the number of biscuits in a packet. They pointed out that the net weight mentioned on each Sunfeast Marie Light packet was 76 grams, in compliance with legal standards.
However, the consumer court’s investigation unveiled a critical discrepancy – each packet containing 15 biscuits weighed only 74 grams. This observation shattered ITC’s argument, as it failed to meet the declared weight standards.
ITC further attempted to justify the discrepancy by referencing the Legal Metrology Rules of 2011, which allowed for a maximum weight discrepancy of 4.5 grams in pre-packaged goods. However, the court swiftly rejected this explanation, asserting that such exemptions applied only to volatile products and were not applicable to biscuits, as they did not lose weight over time.
Victory for the Consumer
In the end, the consumer court ruled in favor of Dillibabu, ordering ITC to pay him Rs 1 lakh as compensation for adopting unfair trade practices. This judgment underscores the importance of adhering to established standards and providing consumers with accurate information regarding the contents of packaged goods.
This case serves as a stark reminder to businesses in the FMCG sector and beyond that transparency and compliance with legal standards are of paramount importance. The consequences of failing to do so can be both financially and reputational.
While the missing biscuit may seem inconsequential, it highlights the significance of consumer rights and fair trade practices. ITC’s costly lesson in this case serves as a cautionary tale for all companies, emphasizing the need for transparency, adherence to standards, and prompt resolution of consumer complaints.