To ensure that the customers are not denied their choice of liquor if it is available in the shop, the excise department has asked agencies to install LED screens at each store to display real-time inventory data. This came after the department received complaints of customers being forced to buy particular brands of liquor at government-run shops.
According to the reports, the screen will carry the details of various brands of liquor and their stock availability. This will help the customers to check the stock details on the screen before approaching the staff for his favourite brand.
“There were some technical problems initially as the software was not syncing with the inventory details. Those teething problems have now been resolved and the LED screens are being installed at each government-run liquor store,” an official said told The Times of India.
Sources said to The Times of India that the excise department had received complaints earlier this year that customers buying cheaper whisky and rum were often denied the brand they asked for and sold some particular variants. The department conducted an inquiry and even raided a few shops and found these complaints to be true.
“We found that some government-run shops were indulging in ‘brand pushing’, which means they would deny customers a few brands despite having them in stock and sell some other brand in the same price range, saying that it was equally good. Under the excise rules, no shop can advertise or promote any particular brand of liquor,” said an official to The Times of India, requesting anonymity. “In fact, a couple of shops even had the staff of the liquor company behind the counters.”
According to the report, the excise department compared the data of liquor sale and found that some of the highest selling brands in the country registered very poor sale in government-run stores, whereas those selling more in such shops sold very little at private shops and other cities, confirming the doubts of brand-pushing.
An official said the excise department had written to the four corporations to put a check on such activities. “We hope that with technological inventions, we will be able to check the practice of brand pushing,” an official said.