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Thread: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?

  1. #1
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    Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    With the recent high levels of inflation, many manufacturers are reducing their pack sizes (weight or volume), while keeping the MRP and the "physical size"/"appearance" of the pack as same. They prefer to do this rather than give price shocks to the consumer.

    So, detergent pack appearance and price remains same, but weight is reduced from 750 to 640 Gms. Shampoo price and bottle remains the same, but volume is reduced. Same thing is happening in many product categories like Biscuits, Chips, etc...

    There is a Act in India called the Standard Weights and Measures Packaged Commodities Act which governs the standard weights/volumes/measures of "packaged" goods in India.

    Someone told me that enforcement is at the state level.

    Whom to address the RTI Application to ? Any Central Authority or does it have to be addressed to authority in each state ? Which authority ?



  2. #2

    Notwithstanding shape and/or colour,If the correct new weight is printed/mentioned and MRP -old or new its not important- is printed/mentioned, I see no case at all unless I am missing some subtle point.

    J. 62/6083 2008/04/16
    Shri. Sharad Pawar
    Hon’ble Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
    Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
    Room No. 120, Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi -110001
    Tel: 011-23383370
    Hon’ble Shri Sharad Pawarji,
    Request for immediate withdrawal of Rule - 5 of Standards of Weights and Measures
    (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2006
    Greetings from CUTS!
    I am writing this letter to bring to your kind notice, a very crucial issue, an exploitation that is
    faced by the consumers of this country, in the midst of growing food prices. This is a serious
    concern expressed by many in the consumer movement across the country.
    As consumers are reeling under the impact of rocketing prices of food items and inflation at
    record levels, and the government is introducing duty cuts to lighten the burden on the wallet
    of consumers, some of the branded grocery manufacturers are holding their prices, but
    cutting the quantity of their products in a way, it is not noticed by the consumers. This is also
    marketed without displaying a declaration of Non-standard Size pack as required under the
    present amended ‘Packaged Commodities Act, Rule-5’
    For example, the Maggi noodles, which always came in the familiar 100 gram pack, have
    gotten lighter by 5 grams. A 250 gm pack of Red Label tea has slimmed down to 245 gm. In
    both cases, prices have remained the same: Rs 10/- for the noodles, Rs 52/- for the tea
    respectively. For some other products, the difference is not so minor. Unilever’s Wheel
    washing powder has cut 200 gm from its 1 kg pack to keep the old price of Rs 21/-. But
    mostly, these deductions are small enough for the consumer to miss. We no longer get 100
    gm of Good Day biscuits for Rs 10/-, we are only getting 92 gm. I am attaching a report in
    this regard in the Hindustan Times dated April 10, 2008 for your kind information.
    Customers are chafing at the companies’ error of omission in not telling that they’ve cut the
    weight of familiar, much-publicised packages. The rules that allows the manufactures to do
    such practices is the amendment to Rule 5 of the Standards of Weights & Measures
    (Packaged Commodities) Rule 1977, effected vide GSR 425 (E) dated. 17.07.2006, which
    says,
    ...The commodities specified in the Third Schedule shall be packed for sale, distribution or
    delivery in such standard quantities as are specified in that Schedule:
    Provided that if a commodity specified in the Third Schedule is packed in a size other than
    that prescribed in that Schedule, a declaration that 'Not a standard pack size under the
    Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977' or 'non standard
    size under the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977'
    shall be made prominently on the label of such package.’
    This amendment is against the real spirit of the Standards of Weights & Measures Act-1976
    and the Rules of 1977. In addition, the very purpose of making the standard packaging of
    particular weights mandatory under Rule 5 (along with specification of standard weights in
    Third Schedule) for each and every pre-packed commodity was to protect the gullible
    consumers from deceptive packaging and consequent exploitation and fleecing of consumers.
    The standard packaging of say, 100 gms or 150 gms or 200 gms etc. enabled the consumers
    to compare the prices of the same commodity produced by different manufacturers. In the
    changed context, the price comparison becomes extremely difficult for common consumers.
    Thus consumers right to choose becomes meaningless and the consumer is prevented form
    making an informed choice in the market place.
    In this context, on behalf of consumer organisations in the country, we kindly request you to
    take necessary steps to immediately withdraw this anti-consumer amendment, the Rule - 5 of
    the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2006,
    and to restore Rule 5 as it stood prior to the impugned amendment.
    Pending the above action, we also request you to direct concerned authorities to take
    immediate action to confiscate the stocks of those commodities, which are being marketed
    without displaying a declaration of Non-standard Size pack as required under the present
    amendment
    We look forward for a favorable immediate action from you, in the interest of the common
    consumers in this country, who are already suffering due to inflation and rise in price of food
    items. We appreciate you intimating us about the action taken in this regard, so that we can
    inform the consumers across the country through the network of consumer organisations.
    Waiting for the earliest response.
    With regards
    Yours sincerely
    George Cheriyan
    Director, CUTS International &
    Head, CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS CART)
    Copy for Information to:
    1. Shri Kantilal Bhuria, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food
    & Public Distribution, GoI
    2. Shri Y.S. Bhave, Secretary to Government of India, Dept. of Consumer Affairs, GoI
    3. Smt. Alka Sirohi, Special Secretary to Government of India, Dept. of Consumer
    Affairs, GoI
    4. Secretary to Government of Rajasthan, Dept. of Consumer Affairs, GoR

    This letter dated 16/04/2008 probably matches your dilemma and cries for immediate remidial actions at the highest level.
    Last edited by Shrawan; 09-05-08 at 12:22 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    Many thanks opsharma for this important piece of information/news.

    I discovered this, just by accident, a few days ago, with a popular brand of washing powder. When I started checking, there were a host of packaged goods doing the same thing ! (as mentioned in the above letter). Mind you, all are the the best of consumer goods manufacturers in India, not some small time brand/manufacturer. I did not notice whether they carry that legend "non standard size under the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977" and the size of the letters of that legend.

    This amendment seems to be totally anti consumer.

    I would like to probe this further and find out the "administrative reasons" behind this amendment to the rules under Sec 4(1)(d) (since I am a affected person) and get to know the whole process of making the amendment from the germination of the idea idea to the final passing of the amendment.

    In a way it is strange....packs boldly say 20% extra free or free 20% extra...but never publicise the reduction in pack size.

    Any idea whom to address the RTI application to ? Should it be Ministry of Consumer Affairs ?

  4. #4

    Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?



    From various sites it appears like:

    Ministry of Consumer Affairs ,Food and Public Distribution.

    Department of Legal Metrology.

    And may fall under heading: redressal of public Grievances Relating to Delivery of Correct Quantity of Mass,Length and Volume .

  5. #5
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    Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    Many thanks opsharma.

  6. #6
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    Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    I have drafted a RTI Application for the Pack Sizes issue, as discussed in the above posts.

    It is attached to this post.

    Can members please go through it and suggest any additions/deletions/ modifications.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  7. #7

    Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    The application reflects "Kariraness" -near perfection,what can one say!!!!

  8. Re: Pack Sizes - Whom to ask for information ?


    Karira,
    Just an idea. See if you can incorporate somewhere " Please furnish me copies of the file notings and other discussion papers/minutes which ultimately led to the amendment to Rule no.5 "
    Defeat is not final when you fall down. It is final when you refuse to get up.

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