Paper Boat in a storm

Who hasn’t made a paper boat? Riding on its nostalgic significance, a beverage produce has been pushing itself as a brand…and cashing on, fast.

I am among those who are choosy about brands, as consumers are mostly made to pay for their advertisements too.

So each time I would see Paper Boat beverage at stores or watch its ads in print or on screen, I would be disinterested, until my nephew introduced one of its flavours this  summer.

Paper BoatThen, I had the same flavour couple of times on different occasions. But, just before I could take up the taste, I suddenly unfolded the paper out of the boat.

It so happened that, as I waited for relatives at a Delhi airport, I picked up a Paper Boat drink from a Relay store. On way back home, I just checked the bill once again.

To my shock, the Relay store had charged me Rs.70 for a 250 ml drink which costs Rs.30 max everywhere in India.

The overpricing had not hit me at the first place since I had bought some magazines as well from the same store.

I then looked at the pack again. The Maximum Retail Price (MRP) was indeed printed for Rs.70. I pressed hard, while talking to myself… as to how Paper Boat could catapult to such a high, from Rs.30 to Rs.70, in a matter of few months of its launch.

Relay StoresI then cross checked with one of my friends visiting the same airport lounge the next day, asking her to enquire from the store. My fears were true, as, according to the store, I wasn’t overcharged. The Relay store was ‘normally’ charging Rs.70 for the Paper Boat product that comes for Rs.30.

Worst fears also got confirmed when Paper Boat replied to my note that I emailed to them:

“Thanks for being a consumer of Paper Boat and thanks for your note. The higher MRP stocks is for sales in certain pre-designated institutional areas. We inform the sales tax and excise department on the quantity of that higher MRP stocks manufactured and also about what quantity of these higher MRP stocks are sold in what institutional accounts. This is a common industry practice around the world for areas, where you will find the cost of operations is high. At airport outlets like Relay and all such high cost institutional areas, you will find water bottles, chocolates, chips and all cold drinks being made by all manufacturers sold with higher MRP stocks. In fact, all of these manufacturers, including us, do not make extra money out of these stocks, as the cost of operations is too high. Please keep consuming Paper Boat, Best wishes.”

Days have passed, and I realize the memories of the Paper Boat drinks have turned sour, though I am still a paper boat in this storm.

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