Sellers of bottled water overcharging customers

  • Many retail shops have been charging Rs 25 for a one-litre bottle of mineral water although maximum retail price (MRP) is Rs 20. Retailers point to wholesalers for the price hike
- SUMAN BASHYAL, Kathmandu

Aug 26, 2014-

Consumers in the Kathmandu valley are being overcharged for bottled mineral water as retailers have been fixing their own rates in the absence of government monitoring.

It’s a seller’s market out there due to limited competition, and merchants have been fixing arbitrary prices despite government regulations, said customers.

On Monday, police acting under orders of the Chief District Officer arrested four traders including Surendra Shakya, proprietor of AM International, for overcharging.

Many retail shops have been charging Rs 25 for a one-litre bottle of mineral water although maximum retail price (MRP) is Rs 20. Retailers point to wholesalers for the price hike.

“Water suppliers have jacked up prices by more than 40 percent, so we were forced to sell the product at a higher rate,” said a retailer at Tinkune. “We were paying Rs 140 for a carton of mineral water till last week, now it costs Rs 200.”

According to Narayan Prasad Bidari, director general of the Department of Commerce and Supplies, the government has been intensifying supervision of the marketplace following complaints that prices were being hiked arbitrarily. He said that wrongdoers would be penalized under the Consumer Rights Protection Act.

Meanwhile, the District Administration Office has also been keeping a sharper eye on bottlers and suppliers in various places of Kathmandu.

On Monday, a team led by market monitoring officer Ram Prasad Gyawali discovered that Glacier Food and Beverages had not been registered with the VAT office. Likewise, Phulchoki Mineral has been found selling mineral water bottles with different price tags. The team also seized 126 invalid stickers of Nepal Bottled Water Industries Association and AM International.

“Traders started hiking prices of mineral water arbitrarily two weeks ago, but the government has not been able to control them,” said Deepak Thing, a consumer in Chapagaon, Lalitpur. He accused the government of being a mute spectator and doing nothing to stop such bad practices.

Purushottam Subedi, chief of the market monitoring division at the Department of Commerce, said it was difficult to check price differences in the market due to lack of bills. “We toured Maharajgunj, Swayambhu, Sitapaila and other places and found no shopkeepers selling water with price tags on the bottles,” he said. “We could not take action against retailers who had been overcharging as we had no proof.”

Published: 27-08-2014 11:05

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