Are you familiar with offers like ‘Shop for Rs.999 and get a gift voucher worth Rs.99′? Most of us constantly look for such announcements in supermarkets, malls and showrooms. But are they for real, i.e, do consumers really get what the vendor promises
The moment we come to know of discounts and offers through the media, we rush to avail of them. S N Subramanya, a consumer and RTI activist, also jumped at one such offer, to his regret. The Big Bazaar (Food Bazaar) grocery outlet in Sigma Mall on Cunnigham Road regularly has special offers on Wednesdays. On 19th November (a Wednesday), Subramanya saw an offer that claimed: "For a purchase of Rs.999 get Rs.60 worth vegetables (1kg onion, 1kg potato, 1kg tomato)." As most of us would do, he jumped to the offer and bought grocery. He made eight different bills each costing Rs.999. According to their offer, he was waiting to get Rs.480 worth of vegetables.
But when he got his bill, the amount of the vegetables was included in the bill. Each bill mentioned Rs.60 worth of vegetables. When he asked for an explanation, the cashier said, "We have given you discounts on each item separately. Thus, the sum total of all the individual discounts adds up to Rs.60 in each bill." Subramanya was surprised at this.
"I could not understand the reason behind the offer, if, in practice, the offer did not exist. Why can’t they simply write that Rs.60 will be discounted form a bill of Rs.999," argues Subramanya. As he was not satisfied, he again went on 26th November to cross check.
This time the offer said: "Shop for Rs.999 and get a gift pack". Thus, to know if what the offer said was being practiced, Subramanya asked the assistant manager to show him the gift he would get after shopping for Rs.999. He was duly shown an impressive collection of cookies. "When I cross checked and asked again if I would get this box for free, I was then told that the gift pack costs Rs.320 and I will have to pay Rs.99 to get it as a gift," he explains.
Getting totally agitated with the statements by Big Bazaar, Subramanya asked the assistant manager to write it down on paper and got it signed form him. As a next step, Subramanya wrote a complaint to Narasimhan, Manager of Food Bazaar at Sigma Mall, asking him not to mislead people by vague statements.
"I sent the complaint through registered post and warned them that I would file a case against them on these grounds," he explains. But the need for filing a case did not arise. "Soon after that, on 2nd December the manager came to my house and asked me not to file a case. He wanted me to mutually settle the account and paid me my dues, including the money spent on traveling to Big Bazaar, making a sum total of Rs.400," says Subramanya.
People often forget to check if the discount they are eligible for is actually given or not. They are, more often than not, taken for a ride by these luring offers. Subramanya’s case is not an isolated one. But in this case, the consumer was alert enough to identify the methodology adopted by these stores and raised his voice against the same. S N Subramanya is keen to help people with consumer related and RTI affairs. He can be contacted on 080 23334908.