Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Consumer crime or criminal society?

As I asked for my one rupee balance from the cashier, the lady customer on the next billing counter took a whole 180 degree turn and looked at me in such an inferior way as if I had abused the cashier. Like I was not embarrassed enough when the cashier rolled his eyes and took a 5 rupee note and gave me saying “you can keep this instead”. He made me feel like a beggar on asking for my own money. Obviously I did not keep it but amused and astonished I moved away. 

The next day I discussed the incident with my friends, most of them shared the same opinion as the lady at the store, “For God sakes you asked for 1 Rs in change?”, “Thank God I was not with you.. lol” and similar comments. Though a few did agree that it was my money and no matter how less it should have been returned, it’s about principle. This is one of the things which have become a part of our daily lives where it is predetermined that the shop keeper will keep the change (mostly small amount) and your asking for it will be a ‘below the line’ act.

Well, I strongly feel the need to revise the definition of consumer crime here. Consumer crimes are exploitation of consumers using unfair means and unethical trade practices e.g. black marketing, adulteration of food and edible oil. Consumer theft is among the list of consumer crimes of which I was a victim and many of you are too, willingly or resentfully.

Let’s face it! It has become a part of our society and at a much smaller scale it is actually corruption deeply embedded and accepted in the system. Petrol Pumps are a perfect example, if you cannot pay back in paisas, please do not use it as a unit of currency unless you have a proper system incorporated like in the telecom sector. In case there is no option; at least the concept of basic ‘rounding-off-the-figure’ could be used; that is somewhat fair.

Let’s assume that a sandwich company has ‘psychologically priced’ their product at Rs. 199 but in actual they charge you Rs. 200 for it. If they sell 200 sandwiches at the end of the day, they will have revenue of 201 sandwiches without having to spend a single penny for that last sandwich. This is just a hypothetical example; these figures are no way near the real ones. The point is not how much ‘extra’ they are earning, it is simply to point out how much acceptable we have become to such unfair and unethical means of doing business.

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