Do stores have the authority to charge you for carry-on bags?

Do stores have the authority to charge you for carry-on bags?

Retailers/shoppers charge you for carry-on bags with their brand logo, for which consumers must pay an additional fee out of pocket, which is not only an unfair trade practice, but it also comes at the expense of the common man. There is also unfair profit.

An immediate complaint was filed alleging unfair trade practice on the part of OP in attempting to recover Rs.3.50 from the complainant under Section 12(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and thus wrongfully collected 30,000 for the bag, as well as Rs.30,000 in compensation, and ordered the OP to stop unfair trade practices and provide free carry-on bags to all customers who purchase the product from them. Let’s get to know if stores have the authority to charge you for carry-on bags by Technical Dost. 

Factual Background

The complainant purchased certain products from OP, which included an amount of Rs. 3.50 for plastic carrier bags bearing his business logo.

The complainant submitted that OP was indulging in unfair trade practices by charging for the said plastic carry-on bags and also using the customer as a medium of advertisement as the carry-on bags sold by OP had his business logo and the customer who was using it was, in fact, promoting OP’s brand.

Therefore, the present complaint sought appropriate direction from the OP to stop the

  • Unfair trade practices,
  • Refund the amount wrongly collected for carrying bags, and
  • Pay compensation for the cost of litigation.

Issues for consideration

Does the extra charge you for carry-on bags by the OP amount to unfair trade practice?
Whether the complainant is entitled to the claim/compensation made against him and to what relief?

Analysis, Law, and Judgment

The Commission observed that with the intention of discouraging consumers from using plastic bags, as they are non-biodegradable and pose a threat to the environment, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 were issued, and the said rules The difference was laid down in Rule 15. Furthermore, no carry bag shall be provided free of cost to the consumers by the retailers. “

The above rules were amended via a notification on 18-3-2018 and Rule 15 of the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 was superseded by a subsequent notification dated 27-3-2018 and hence as per the present legal position. As per usual, the OP cannot take recourse to the said rule.

Quorum expressed

In addition, instead of discouraging the use of plastic bags, charging customers for carrying bags has now become a commercial practice.

The opinion of the Commission,

“In a way, the retailer/shopkeeper is misusing the government rule and illegally charging customers for plastic carry bags.”

Further, as per the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 dated 27-3-2018, the present legal position with respect to Rule 15 is that “Explicit pricing of carrying bags” has been omitted and hence this Forum has allowed the complaint and gave OP the following instructions:

  • First, It should stop charging for carrying bags and provide free carry bags to all customers who buy goods from its stores.
  • Not only was 3.50 collected in error for plastic carry bags but also will refund to the complainant.
  • Lastly, To pay one thousand rupees as compensation to the complainant. There was a retailer who charged a man Rs 12 for a carry bag. He must now pay Rs 21,000 in compensation.


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