The Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) today directed Godrej Appliances, Whirlpool of India, and LG Electronics India, to advertise both the gross and net capacities of their frost-free refrigerator within six weeks from the date of this order.
The Commission has not only directed them to specify the product capacities in advertisements and brochures but to display the same on their respective products till the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications in this regard come into force.
The MRTPC also clarified that all the three manufacturers are at liberty to continue to follow the method they have adopted so far for working out the storage capacities, till the BIS specifications come.
Considering an application moved by Godrej Appliances seeking clarifications on certain points arising from the Commission's earlier order of April 2003, the MRTPC gave this order.
Godrej had sought clarification on whether the manufacturers should specify gross or net capacity or in the alternative both in respect of frost-free refrigerators.
"We find that the clarification in the aforesaid application has been sought on an issue which is very vital from the point of view of the consumers, which if not decided may render them vulnerable to the confusion resulting from varying practices adopted by the manufacturers to specify the storage capacities of their frost free refrigerators," the MRTPC Bench said.
The application has its genesis in the Commission's April order, which had expressed surprise and concern at the widely varying practices adopted by manufacturers to specify the storage capacities of their respective refrigerators.
The April order left it to the good sense of the parties to agree upon a uniform practice for specifying the storage capacity - it could be either gross or net, the Bench said.
"From the present application, it appears that the parties to the dispute have not agreed upon a uniform practice and each one is continuing to blow its own trumpet, leaving the consumers in lurch."
The bench also said that Whirlpool and Godrej have agreed to follow a uniform practice in this regard.
The two manufacturers have stated that they would follow the international standards and specify both gross and net capacities of their frost-free refrigerators till the standards to be laid down by the BIS are finalised and brought into force.
"We see no logic in the reluctance of LG (respondent) to fall in line with the other two manufacturers in this regard, unless it has the intention to keep harvesting the benefits of advertising only the gross capacity. This appears to be an unfair method that is bound to cause prejudice to the interest of consumers," it said.