Have you ever wondered, whether a free gift offer made by a retailer is legally binding? What can be done if he refuses to give you the free gift or the prize offered by him? Well, if you are still wondering, read along.
Is denying a free gift an unfair trade practice?
According to the Consumer Protection Act, it is an unfair trade practice when a retailer offers a gift, prize or any other item with the intention of not providing them as offered or when he creates an impression that something is being given free of charge when it is being covered in some other way. So, the answer is yes. Not giving a free gift, without any genuine reason, is an unfair trade practice. You can file a complaint with the consumer forum (here is our No Nonsense Guide to filing your complaint) if you are denied any free gifts or prizes offered by any company/trader.
Some examples too
One Mr. Mallaiyah decided to buy an Onida television after seeing an advertisement, which said that a TV stand will be given free with certain models of Onida. At the time of the purchase, the retailers informed him that, due to a shortage in supply, the TV stand will be delivered to him only after three days. To Mr. Mallaiyah’s dismay, the TV stand was not delivered to him even after one week. All communications made with the retailer and the manufacturer in this regard went futile. After some time the retailers informed Mallaiyah that the TV stand is available for delivery, but asked him to pay an extra amount of Rs 1000. Mallaiyah took the issue before the District Consumer Forum. The court decided in his favor. He was compensated with an amount of Rs. 25,000 and direction was given to the retailers for free delivery of the TV stand. The rationale used by the court in this case is that there is a deficiency of service when the retailers failed to deliver the TV stand. See here
In another case the District Forum fined M/S Bharati Airtel Ltd with Rs. 10,00O for not providing the complainant with the free flight ticket, which was offered to the customers of a certain postpaid connection. The State Commission, on appeal by Airtel, reduced the fine amount to Rs. 5,000. See Here
Another interesting point
Many retailers try to entice buyers with free gift items. Therefore, if the company never had any intention of giving the free gift or does not do so, it would be considered an unfair trade practice as per the Consumer Protection Act.
Just to clear any doubts, let us say if the company does give you the free gift or service but you are unhappy with its quality or the service is not up to the mark. Can you then approach the consumer forum as well? The answer is yes because as a consumer your decision to buy the main product or service was made with the free gift offer in mind as well and you basically purchased both the items and theoretically paid for them.
When a retailer offers a commodity or a service as a free gift, it is the consumer’s right to get that and it is the retailer’s duty to make sure that it is available to the consumers. The consumers should specifically ask for any such offers and should take legal action against any retailer who denies them.
Haqq se maango, not only Priya gold biscuits but also the free gifts with it, if any.
Thanks to our intern Peter Adam, a NUJS, Kolkatta student for the research and draft of the article.
File your consumer complaint here.