In 1995 when I first visited the Kathriguppe main road at Banashankari 3rd Stage, it reminded me of RK Narayan’s description of a sleepy town. But today it boasts of everything that a city needs, including a retail store fresh@banashankari just 200 m from our residential complex with 72 apartments. I was informed the founder of Heritage Foods was none other than N. Chandrababu Naidu, former Andhra CM.
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I am a 65 year old who loves fruits. I used to be a regular customer at fresh@banashankari since it opened. I shifted my source of purchase from the road side fruit vendor at Vidyapeeta circle to Fresh, though the price of fruits and vegetables were costlier by a couple of notches. After all one must pay for convenience. The gleam and sheen has faded away and now, to me, it is just another grade three grocery store, but with uniformed employees, unlike Mari Gowda’s cousin in striped underwear who dispenses with customers in a jiffy with an ‘our kya?’!
Then I started noticing items missing from my shopping bag compared to my bill on two or three occasions- and thought I was suffering from amnesia. Recently, one fine day, I decided to check the carry bag and compare it with the bill and found 878 gms of grapes missing from the total 4 items I had paid for. While I was trying to read the miniscule print in font 4 printed on the bill and trying to decipher the squiggles, a uniformed girl appeared on my side with a smirk and handed over the bag containing the grapes and growled ‘sorry’. Hmm! Heritage Foods has now come now full circle with MBAs and DBMs managing its grocery stores.
It was 1421 hrs on 3rd October 2008, when I picked up the following items:
Grapes Dilkhush 836g @ Rs.25.00 = 20.90
Apple Fugi China 346g@ Rs.93.00 = 32.18
Pears china 542g @ Rs.87.00= 47.15
Apple Granny Smith 566g @130.00=73.58
Iris Chocolate bar Cake 1.000 @ 24.00=24.00
While the pear was being weighed I noticed the price being shown as Rs.85.00 on the scale’s monitor and I remember to have seen as Rs.83.00 displayed on the crate. So I took the guy who was weighing my purchase and showed him the rate displayed on the crate. He just waved me off telling that the code (bar code) will bill me correctly and I should not worry about it.
So I came over and got the billing done (3032 00771 003 7710 3/10/08 14:49 totaling Rs.197.81 when I noticed I have been billed the Pear @ Rs.87.00 and not Rs.85.00 or Rs.83.00 which was displayed on the crate. Since no one was interested in answering my queries I came home and called the toll free customer care number and tried to explained my complaint: How can a retail giant like Heritage Foods go down to the level of cheating their customers by displaying a lower price tag but billing at a higher rate? The response was lukewarm (as always with an outsourced call centre); so I went down with a camera to the store to click a picture of the crate displaying the price tag as ‘Rs.83.00’ per kg. While I was focusing the on price tag an employee in a civil dress came and tried to tear off the price tag. I told her not to do it as she is destroying the evidence of a complaint/Consumer complaint redressal/ or even a criminal act of willfully cheating a customer. She stopped and I took the picture (attached).
I have received few calls from their call centre, the local customer care representative and none of them could give a valid reason why there is a differential price in display/weighing machine/ and billing counter.
I had the following options:
- Register a police complaint with the local police station for cheating. (I know nothing can happen since this company is politically connected)
- I live in an apartment complex with 72 families and I can explain my experience with evidence to those who shop at this place which is just 200 m from the complex
- File a complaint with District Consumer Redressal cell with no financial claim
- Write to local and national news papers about my experience with Heritage Foods retail division
- Write to those who are waging a war against monopolies entering retail market so that they can do a better ‘case study’
- Just forget it and walk another 50m to Mr Mari Gowda whose cousin wears a striped underwear and asks ‘our kya?’
The president of our apartment owner’s welfare association asked me to issue a circular to all the shoppers from our complex which is attached too.
One can just imagine with 78 or more retail outlets and close to 1.2 million footfalls, at an average Rs.1/= per customer, Heritage foods may be making a lot of money every day from unwary customers. ⊕