Stepping into a swanky multiplex or a high-end restaurant or an airport lounge and purchasing eatables can cost you a bomb.
However, if you feel that you have been cheated of your hard-earned money into paying a premium for a burger or a bucket of popcorn in a multiplex or at a posh hotel, there is little that any authority can do, as this is something called paying for an 'ambience', which basically refers to operational costs.
Since this cost is inbuilt in the displayed price of the item, it cannot be termed as overcharging, sources pointed out.
In such cases, there is hardly anything that the authorities can do, as additional tax is charged on a simple snack as part of the ambience cost, industry watchers said.
The Department of Consumer Affairs mainly receives complaints of overcharging, i.e., when people complain that they have been charged more than the maximum retail price (MRP) mentioned on a product.
In these cases, action is warranted, sources within the department said.
However, if it comes to paying an extraordinarily high amount for snacks at a multiplex or a high-end restaurant, that is something which is charged by the service provider for the ambience which is being made available to the customer and the cost for providing it.
"This is inbuilt in the MRP for that particular product, therefore, it is something which is expected in such places. We can only intervene if in case of an over the counter payment, the amount being charged is more than the MRP mentioned on the product (in other words overcharging)," sources in the Consumer Affairs Department said.
This is evident from the fact that in the past, the government had taken serious note of complaints of bottled water or packaged food items and drinks being sold at prices higher than the MRP.
The Consumer Affairs Department had earlier said that it keeps receiving complaints of products being sold at a price higher than the MRP.
There are provisions to prevent charging above the MRP in the Legal Metrology Act 2009, sources said, adding that penalties are imposed on violation of the Act's provisions by the concerned authorities.