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Indian auto major Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) has been asked by a city district consumer forum to pay Rs one lakh to one of its customers as compensation for “inducing” him to buy a car through misleading advertisements on its mileage.

Holding MUL guilty of resorting to unfair trade practice, the New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum also asked it to conduct its own fuel efficiency test and inform buyers about the minimum and maximum possible mileage in its future advertisements.

While referring to the copy of advertisement submitted by complainant Rajiv Sharma, the bench presided by C K Chaturvedi said MUL had “adopted the mileage (in the advertisement) to its advantage without a corresponding clear information to consumers that this is not vouchsafed by Maruti itself”.

“Such advertisements enhance sales enormously by inducing consumer without corresponding benefits. In our view opposite party MUL explained Auto Car Sales data to exploit consumers and is guilty of unfair trade practice.

“We award a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 to complainant (Sharma) for this unfair trade practice and direct Maruti Suzuki to do its own authentic fuel efficiency test and state margin of error, in future advertisements, where it claims fuel efficiency per kilometer of a particular model of car,” the bench also comprising member S R Chaudhary said.

Rohini resident Sharma had alleged that MUL in its advertisement in a leading newspaper had claimed that its Zen car had a fuel efficiency of 16.7 km per litre, relying on which he purchased a Maruti Zen LX in 2005.

The car, however, gave a mileage of only 10.2 km per litre which did not improve, he added.

Maruti contended that the disputed advertisement was based upon figures given in the 2004 issue of Auto Car India.

The forum, however, rejected the contention saying the fine print which showed the source of information as the Auto Car India study was “deceptive” and “so small as to be not readable”.


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