If you have been to the Inox Movies or for that matter to any other multiplexes in India, you would have surely noticed the exorbitant prices they charge for the bottle of water which is not permissible by the Fair Trade Practice. On top of the above, they do not even allow you to carry your own bottle of water inside the auditorium which is completely unethical. This practice leads to force the consumer to buy the water bottles from the Inox Leisure and pay more than double under the pretext of huge amounts of investment done by the company.
According to the post published by The Logical Indian on this issue, one of the consumers from Hyderabad had filed a consumer case on INOX for carrying out the unfair trade practice. According to the sources, Mr.Vijay Gopal from Hyderabad was stopped by the INOX security personnel for carrying the water bottle inside the auditorium. The security confiscated the bottle and issued him the token of a cloakroom to collect the same back while going home. This incident had occurred at GVK Mall in Hyderabad.
According to the reports, when security demanded to keep the bottle at cloakroom before entering the auditorium, Gopal asked the operations manager for the reason behind not allowing him to carry the water bottle inside the auditorium and he was told that INOX do not allow water bottles inside the auditorium as the water can be used as an ingredient for making an explosive.
According to Gopal, following the above incident, he went one more time to INOX but this time to a different location at Maheshwari Mall in Hyderabad. Gopal told The Logical Indian team that, this time again he purchased the water bottle from INOX and they charged him Rs. 50 for the bottle instead of the MRP Rs. 20. “The practice of not allowing customers to carry outside water bottles into the screening area is a restrictive trade practice where INOX creates a manipulative environment to push customers into buying water bottles double its actual cost,” he said adding that “The multiplex also keep its water dispensers at GVK mall close to the washroom and not in the screening area or the pantry, where they ideally should be kept. This again forces people to buy water from the cafeteria because they are unaware of the existence of dispensers.”
The above two incidents proved that INOX was doing an Unfair Trade Practice and that made him decide to take them to the consumer court and accordingly he lodged the complaint at the District Consumer Forum, Hyderabad. In is complaint he demanded the following reliefs
- INOX should allow people to carry outside water bottles as there might be many individuals who do not wish to purchase water from their cafeteria.
- The water dispenser should be placed in an area where it is visible.
- The multiplex should not charge more than the MRP of the bottle.
According to the sources, the counsel of Inox Lesure Ltd. had denied all the allegations made by Gopal and stated that they have not resorted to any unfair trade practices at all and he made following submissions before the court:
- The practice of not allowing the outside water bottles is purely based on the security reasons as the water can be used as an ingredient to make explosives and that the above thing is practiced by the INOX LESURE LTD on PAN India level.
- INOX Movies provide the free purified water for the consumption of all its patrons. Hence, when a patron purchases a packaged drinking water bottle at an INOX multiplex, they are aware of the MRP of such bottles and thereafter voluntarily purchases such bottle at the printed MRP which is also prominently displayed in the food counter.
- The price of a water bottle at Rs. 50/- is justified taking into the consideration the maintenance cost and capital investment done on the ambiance and amenities provided at the Multiplex.
Based on the above points the INOX counsel sought the dismissal of the complaint as it argued that there was no unfair trade practiced on their part.
After hearing both the parties the Hyderabad court gave its judgment and according to that the court held the INOX guilty of unfair trade practice and allowed the claims made by Gopal. Based on the order dated 4/04/2017, the consumer court had directed the INOX multiplex to grant the following reliefs:
- The movie theaters should have the visual representation/notification in the theater premises that the customers can carry water bottles into the screening area.
- The INOX should clearly mention the number of screens at INOX movies and the total number of water dispensers installed at various places. (As per the Gopal’s complain, he saw only one dispenser for multiple screens placed in a very isolated manner)
- To take the cognizance of this case and take required action against INOX Movies and directed them to stop such malpractices of looting ignorant customers.
The court also observed that, In view of the above judgement there cannot be two MRPs for the same water bottle and manufacturer also has no right to fix different MRP to two different water bottles of same quality and quantity and directed them to discontinue the unfair trade practice of restrictive trade practice and not to repeat the same in future. The court further said that disallowing customers to carry water bottles inside the screening area is unfair and should not be practiced by INOX in any of its multiplexes in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Meanwhile, according to Gopal, he pursued his case without the help of any lawyer and fought the same on his own. The court allowed him the compensation of Rs. 6000 for the legal costs incurred. “Though the judgement is in my favour, it is also in violation of Section 14, 1 (h) (Hb) of the consumer protection Act, 1988, which says that if loss or injury has been suffered by a large number of consumers who are not identifiable conveniently, the minimum amount of sum so payable shall not be less than five percent of the value of such defective goods sold or services provided to the customers” He said. Gopal has also decided to move to the higher courts for the higher penalties for the violations of the above-mentioned sections and also press criminal charges against INOX if it continues selling water bottles at a higher price than the retail cost.
In the above judgement although other theaters were not impleaded as parties to the proceedings but they will also have to follow the directions issued in this case. Copies of the judgement shall be sent to each Cinema theater. All the Cinema Theatres are directed to follow this judgement. Additionally, moviegoers in Hyderabad and Secunderabad can now carry their own water bottles or water bottles purchased from outside the theater if they want. The compliance time given by the Court to all cinema theaters is 40 days from the date issue of the order, i.e., 14 May 2017.
The Goa Prism team along with The Logical Indian would like to appeal to the people of Goa and for that matter people from all over the India to come ahead and put stop to the unfair trade practices carries out by the multiplexes and Malls across India and make sure that every theatre allow the consumer to carry their own water bottles and also provide the package drinking water at the MRP existing in the marketplace. In case you wish to share any such story/experience that you or someone is known to you have come across, please write to us at [email protected] and we will help you to publish the same and also help you with the legal proceedings against the people who resort to such malpractices.
SOURCE: THE LOGICAL INDIAN