Tipplers paying via cards ‘e-fleeced’ by Tasmac?

After fleecing customers in cash dealings, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac), continues to indulge in collecting more than Maximum Retail Price (MRP) even through debit and credit card transactions in what appears to be an elaborate scam.
Tipplers paying via cards ‘e-fleeced’ by Tasmac?


Following series of complaints and several reports that salesmen in Tasmac shops charge customers above MRP for each liquor bottle that has been purchased, Home, Prohibition and Excise Department had introduced PoS (Point of Sale) machines in its outlets in major cities, including Chennai, recently. The salespersons were also trained to use the swiping machines and to give transaction receipts to the consumers.

However, even after introducing online transaction, salesmen continue to receive more money than the MRP rate printed on the liquor bottle.

While a senior official from the State Finance Department told DT Next that all government online revenue transactions will go to various official bank accounts of the State, he also pointed out that Tasmac’s move to collect “extra” money through cards has been viewed as a serious offense and gross violation of RBI rules.

Tasmac Employees Association State President AE Balusamy admitted that salesmen were resorting to the act due to official pressure. “The money collected through debit and credit cards for each area is first deposited into a private bank account (unofficial). Since the collection is usually tallied on a weekly basis, the exact amount for the sales made is later taken from the private account to the Tasmac official account,” an office bearer of the association said. Sources pointed out that in certain divisions, the excess money collected through digital transactions was adjusted from the cash transactions made. “Thus when we deposit the total collections, there is no mismatch,” a Tasmac source said.

Chartered Accountants say that all digital payments made for the government need to be tagged to respective accounts. “For example, if property tax collected through online, the money automatically goes to the tag of the bank account and would be deposited. If this was the case, the excess funds collected would reflect in the audit by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and everything would be exposed,” a city-based accountant said, adding, it is a serious violation on the part of Tasmac officials.

An RBI official said there are instances where merchant establishments levy fee as a percentage of the transaction value as charges on customers who are making payments for purchase of goods and services through debit cards. “Even such fee are not justifiable and not permissible as per the bilateral agreement between the acquiring bank and the merchants and therefore calls for termination of the relationship of the bank with such establishments. This is a more serious violation,” he said.

When contacted, a senior area manager from Tasmac said there were no complaints against any salesmen, who are selling more than MRP through swiping machines. “Action will be taken against those who violate the rules,” he added.

According to Tasmac officials, more than 2,500 Point of Sale (POS) machines have been installed in as many as shops in the cities. On an average, the digital sales in a day come to around Rs 5 crore.

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