Hyderabad: Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has ordered KFC to pay Rs 50,000 as punitive damage and Rs 10,000 as compensation to a customer for charging Rs 33 as packing fee.

Complainant Vijay Gopal resident of Tarnaka ordered Smoky Red Rice Bowl and Pepsi online on Swiggy App from KFC Restaurant, Nacharam, on May 30 2019 at Rs 204.76 plus GST of Rs 11.9.

"The total bill should have been 216.66. However, the aggregator added packing charges of Rs 33 separately for the purchases and also added GST to this. I paid Rs 33 extra as packing charges," said Vijay Gopal.

He added that the price of the item purchased online already is 15-20 percent higher than what is sold over the counter. "Charging operating expenses to the bill separately is unfair trade practice and the forum should take a serious view of this illegal practice by Swiggy App and KFC and levy a significant penalty on them under section 14 (1) (h) (hb)," said Vijay Gopal.

He also said that the soft copy of the bill which was delivered to a consumer via email also states that packing charges were levied. "I was surprised to see that it was mentioned as `Delivery Charges' of Rs 33 on the physical bill. This I believe is a classic case of the aggregator and the trader (KFC) colluding and passing their operating costs onto customers," said Vijay Gopal.

Taking the evidence on record, the commission comprising the bench of Vakkanti Narasimha Rao, PVTR Jawahar Babu, and RS Rajeshree dismissed the claim against Swiggy, but asked KFC to pay Rs 50,000 as punitive damage under section 14(1) (d) (hb) of Consumer Protection Act 1986.

KFC was asked to deposit the same before the commission within 45 days. After deposit, the office of the commission was directed to remit the same in the Consumer Welfare Fund account maintained by the Telangana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad.

The commission also asked KFC to refund Rs 33.33 and pay Rs 10,000 towards the compensation to the complainant for causing inconvenience and mental agony. Besides, it was asked to pay Rs 5,000 towards the cost of litigation.

"We are not charged packing charges on take away. But when order online, they levy a packing charge. I am happy that the Court has asked KFC to pay Rs 50,000 as a fine for their unreasonable act and also granted me Rs 15000 as litigation charges and compensation. The court has also asked KFC to return Rs 33.33 collected as packing charges," said Vijay Gopal.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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