Dual pricing to end in December; clarity on product details ensured

The ministry of consumer affairs has made amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, prohibiting dual prices, unless allowed by law. This will be effective from 1 January 2018, and will benefit consumers in several ways.

The amended rules also make it mandatory for all packaged commodities to have increased font size for ''best before'', ''date of manufacturing'', ''name of producer'', etc, to make these easily readable for the consumer.

This means that all packaged products will be priced equally at different places -  a pack of snacks, soft drinks or water bottle at multiplexes, airports and malls as will cost the same as elsewhere, an enabling legislation for the GST roll-out.

The new rules will also be applicable to crucial medical devices such as stents, valves, orthopaedic implants, syringe and tools for operations, which are placed under the drugs category, minister for consumer affairs Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.

Currently, there is no standard pricing mechanism for these products and consumers buy these products based on their paying capacity of the customer despite a cap on their MRPs, which many companies were not displaying.

Provisions regarding declarations on food products have been harmonised with labelling regulations under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006. These amendments will be effective from 1 January 2018.

The government wants to give enough time for producers to liquidate existing inventories before enforcing new rules, officials pointed out.

For e-commerce firms, the new rules specify that the goods displayed by the sellers on their websites should contain details like name and address of the manufacturer, packer and importer, name of the commodity, net contents, retail sale price, consumer care complaint, dimensions, etc.

Bar code and QR coding has been allowed on voluntarily basis by the ministry.