Coca Cola fined for tobacco pouch in bottle

From time to time, we all hear stories about how supposedly closed cold drink bottles have had all sorts of things inside the bottle, ranging from cockroaches to pieces of metal, and so on. In a new twist that combines these stories with the push by our Health Minister to reduce the prevalence of smoking and tobacco consumption, a consumer found a bottle of Coca Cola containing a pouch of tobacco. He was shocked, and started a chain of correspondence with the company in order to discuss this, but apparently getting nowhere, he finally filed a case in the consumer redressal forum. And the consumer court ruled in his favor, awarding him a compensation of Rs. 15,000 (bringing the case dating from 2004 to a conclusion):

CHANDIGARH: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Fatehgarh Sahib, has fined Coca Cola Rs 15,000 after a tobacco pouch was found in a bottle of the company. “The sale of contaminated Coca Cola, which is dangerous to human consumption is a matter of deficiency of service,” the forum said in its order.

It further said in the order that the fine is being imposed for causing harassment and mental agony to the complainant. The complainant had purchased six bottles of Coca Cola from the retail outlet on May 4, 2004. On reaching home he was shocked to see a pouch of tobacco in one of the bottles. When the matter could not be resolved despite a long correspondence with Coca Cola authorities, he lodged a complaint with consumer court.

This is typically what happens. What would normally happen in such a case is that the consumer would give up after some discussion with the company, either because he has not heard back or because he is reassured that this was an accident. And no production has 100% quality levels, so an occasional quality problem could pop up. What is needed however is that the company respond well to the consumer and not shirk their duty, which many companies in India do end up doing. To that extent, this is a good case; a consumer reported a problem to the consumer forum and got a solution.

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