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Terrifying three-letter word

A three-letter word has been puzzling me for long – MRP. I wonder if this acronym for Maximum Retail Price is effective and enforceable at all.JOHNPOWATH-02

To me this is sort of a statutory warning as printed on cartons and packaged products such as cigarettes. This legally enforceable practice is supposed to protect consumers from the profiteers. But then, we all know how people care for statutory warnings! They give a damn!

The intention of the authorities is arguably good. However, in practice it’s not generally enforced. I really wonder whether consumer activists will ever chase retailers who sell above the MRP threshold.

The other day, I took my client out for dinner. My wife usually complaints that when I take a client out and treat him in an upscale restaurant, I become liberal with the budget. She says in such cases I’m shown to have unlimited budget and the credit card limit is open to accommodate any amount!

Well, clients are like gods as it is only from them you make money. And naturally they have to be well fed and well looked after. There is always an enlightened self-interest behind this lavish spending.

This client of mine had a peculiar behaviour. He always believed that the whole world was swarming with deadly germs. He always took extra care in what he ate. He was very careful in what he consumed and drank. He was almost paranoid about the quality of the food and drink.

As we sat down, the ever-smiling pretty waitress came to our table. I knew exactly the first salvo she was going to fire.” Sir, normal water or bottled water?” Being so used to drinking piped water provided by the municipality, any water would suit me. Knowing very well the ‘funny’ nature of my client and even otherwise, I ordered bottled water.

Then came the second salvo, which was really unexpected. The waitress gave us the names of half-a-dozen brands of bottled water. Of course, my choice would naturally be the most expensive one. It was yet another occasion for me to show off my ‘net worth’. I was determined to impress my client to clinch the business. I was treating him as the God Almighty.

The next step I knew. It was a lesson I learned from treating business clients as people who could make and break business. Of course I knew it’s time to make an impression. I ordered the best of the wine and starters, followed by the best and most expensive items on the menu card, followed by desserts.

Finally, it was time for me to receive my ‘death warrant’: The inevitable check. Being seated right in front of the client, I thought it was a shame to check the details on the itemised check presented by the waitress.

I flashed my credit card, and the way I did was also to convey to the client how pleasant an evening it was to spend with him. I was keen to demonstrate to him that it was a very good and meaningful time that I had spent with him. Well, that was the nuts and bolts of doing business.

On reaching home, I was clearing my pocket and found the restaurant check. Being at home, I could afford to go through the details very minutely. The total came as a rude shock. The greater shock was the amount I had to pay for the bottled water.

It was here I froze looking at the MRP. I was sure it might have been very clearly printed on the bottle. There was no way I could check on the pricy item served in the dark ambience of the restaurant. Where do I take my case to?

The only consolation was that the drinks and the dinner were on company expenses account. To be frank, the MRP didn’t hurt my personal pocket! I hope I could catch the client in my net. I’m still waiting to hear from him.


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