The adage “A small mistake can snowball into a major blunder” became a harsh reality for ITC Limited when they were forced to compensate a customer with INR 1 lakh due to a packaging error in a Sunfeast Marie Light biscuit packet. This incident took place approximately two years ago when P. Dillibabu, residing in MMDA Mathur, Chennai, purchased two biscuit packets in December 2021 from a Manali retail store. His intention was to use them to feed stray animals. To his disappointment, he found that one of the packets contained only fifteen biscuits instead of the advertised sixteen, as reported by the Times of India.
Dillibabu made efforts to seek clarification from both his neighborhood store and ITC but was left dissatisfied with their responses. Growing increasingly frustrated, he decided to file a formal complaint with a consumer court. In his complaint, he emphasized that each biscuit was priced at 75 paise. Upon his calculations, he pointed out that with the company producing nearly 50 lakh packets per day, ITC could potentially be causing a daily public loss of INR 29 lakh due to the discrepancy.
In its defense before the court, the FMCG giant contended that the product’s sale was based on its weight rather than the quantity of biscuits contained within. They asserted that the product was advertised with a net weight of 76 grams. However, upon inspection, the commission determined that it actually weighed only 74 grams. ITC’s legal representatives cited the Legal Metrology Rules of 2011, which permit a maximum allowable error of 4.5 grams for pre-packaged commodities. Nevertheless, the judge disagreed, clarifying that this rule was applicable solely to items categorized as ‘volatile’ in nature.
As a result, on August 29th, the court determined that ITC had participated in ‘unfair trade practices’ and directed the immediate cessation of the sale of the particular batch of biscuits in question. Additionally, the judge decreed that the company must provide the consumer with compensation totaling INR 1 lakh. This conclusion marked the end of a case in which what appeared to be a minor mistake ultimately incurred a substantial cost for the company, all stemming from a single biscuit!