Surf Excel Stained: HUL Fined Rs 27 Lakh for Misleading Customers
Delhi State Consumer Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 27 lakh on Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) for “playing a fraud” on its customers by floating a “misleading and fraudulent advertisement” for its product Surf Excel.
Delhi resident Pramod Gupta had claimed before the forum that a scheme was introduced by the company, to promote the sales of the product, offering a scholarship of Rs 5 lakh to the children of anyone who finds a piece of cloth (swatch) inside the detergent packet bearing the score of 10/10. Gupta, who was one such winner, had contacted the firm and submitted the swatch. However, he was later told by the firm that his claim was repudiated. Thereafter, Gupta approached the district forum, the complaint said.
The Delhi State Consumer Commission rejected HUL’s appeal against an order passed by a district consumer forum asking the company to pay the prize money to Gupta.
In its reply before the forum, the company had claimed that Gupta furnished the swatch with 10/10 score, but a “unique code” was missing.
While imposing a fine of Rs 27 lakh on the firm, the commission has also upheld the forum’s order to give the prize money to Delhi resident Pramod Gupta.
I am left with no option but to hold that the Opposite Party (firm) in the garb of becoming a philanthropist has befooled a large number of its customers in the country... In the circumstances, I am of the considered opinion that the Opposite Party (OP) has played a fraud upon its customers by floating a misleading and fraudulent advertisement. It promoted its sales at the cost of causing harassment and mental agony to the customers.NP Kaushik, Commission’s Judicial Member
Surf Excel advertisements are usually centred around children.