Plastic bag way to customer dissatisfaction

by Ashvini on December 13, 2011 · 12 comments

in My Personal Thoughts

MallsĀ  in most parts of India have stopped providing free polythene bags to shoppers.

It is a known fact that plastic bags are not good for a healthy environment. They clog drains and are not biodegradable. They are difficult to recycle as well. Thus this is a good move.

However, there is a twist in the tale. For shelling out a certain amount of money( which retailers call as nominal), you can get all the bags you want, in principal defeating the purpose of not having the plastic bags in the first place.

Frankly plastic bags are very useful. They are strong and easy to carry around. They can be used again later till they get worn. They are cheap as well, which makes for their popularity.


image credit at the end

The malls have conveniently decided to dump the cost of procuring bags on the shoppers. Instead of providing alternatives such as cloth or jute bags( very costly when they do it), they now charge for plastic bags. The Indian customer smart as she is ( like my wife is) , brings bags from home.

But, I see a lot of problem with carrying bags from home

  1. They come in all sizes , unlike in standard sizes
  2. They are probably not fit for carrying grocery ( may not be right grade)
  3. Consumer need to keep plastic bags at home( original problem of not having plastic bags remains)
  4. Increased stress at the checkout, at the time of putting the items in the car and unloading them at home

For malls, even though they are happy with the cost being passed to customer , face these problems ( that they fail to recognize)

  1. Customer dissatisfaction: Those customers who forgot the bags home are unhappy
  2. Brand issue : We often carry bags from other malls and the retailers employees have to use them whether they like it or not. If I were a retail house brand manager, I would be seriously worried.
  3. Lower productivity: To fill the bags, employees have to understand what can go in it . For e.g. they have to first see how much strong the bag is and how much load it can take. Can they pack dishwasher liquid in it or is it more suitable for milk?
    This may really get annoying when the lines at billing are wrong
  4. Unhygienic practices: Some bags are not meant for certain purpose. Customer carrying goods in unhygienic ways and then getting ill because of it does not speak good about the retailers .
  5. Overall dissatisfaction and increased stress at the store: Imagine shopping at highly crowded store and then later standing in the queues only to remember you forgot the bags.

Stores are really not helping the environment while increasing inconvenience to customers and employees.

They need to provide more options to the customer, for e.g. pricing cloth bags right, allowing customers to return them and aggressively asking vendors to push the cost down.

As a consumer, I too need to search for the cloth /jute bags but if malls really take the initiative, I will save some time and money there.

Image Credit :Image: winnond /

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Shikha Sharma March 19, 2012 at 1:46 am

As per our research we need a strong and concentrated campaign to curb the pollution caused by plastics. The ban on plastic bags is very hard to put in place as packaging has taken its roots in our day to day life. Moreover, these days it is not possible to buy milk in a jug. The only way out of this problem can be that our old plastic should be replaced with oxo-biodegradable plastic so that it becomes biodegradable in open environment in the same way as a leaf.

UAE has already banned plastic products except oxo-biodegradable plastics( February, 2012). Oxo-biodegradable plastics are those which biodegrades in the presence of oxygen in a timescale which can be approximately determined by the chemical formulations which is added to normal plastic at the extrusion stage. The chemical formulation which can be added to normal plastic is symphony’s d2w technology. Symphony is a British public company, listed on the London Stock Exchange. Also, because Oxo-biodegradable plastics can be manufactured by local factories therefore there will be no loss of jobs. The technology is not expensive at all.

It is unfair to burden our children and grandchildren with this problem as there is something we can and should now be doing about it.


Ashvini Kumar Saxena March 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Hi Shikha,

Thanks for raising the awareness.
Publishing your email here may lead to spam by scrapers. Thus I have removed the contact details. If anyone wishes to contact you, they can always follow the link in your name.


Max M December 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm

In my country we have always paid for plastic bags in the malls and we don’t have another way. At home I keep plenty with them having no ideas what to do about it in fact as we have rubbish bins for plastic bottles, but not for plastic bags.


Aswani December 17, 2011 at 11:29 am

Interesting post Ashvini. You are very right with your points. Plastic bags are banned here too but I can still see some local shopkeepers providing the same to the buyers when they make any purchase. At some places, I find people being given paper containers to carry their items. And at some places, you have to carry your own bag for the same purpose. So, things are never ever the same. Anyways, my take on this is that instead of depending on others for the same, why not be ready from our own side. I do not see any problem in carrying bags from our side. Opinions may vary but it is always better to be prepared from our side.

There have been few occasions where I have forgotten to follow the same and I had to face problems because of the same but not anymore, after all you learn from your mistakes :-P


Ashvini Kumar Saxena December 20, 2011 at 4:01 am

Hey Aswani,
I am all set for buying bags from the merchants provided I am able to get it a reasonable price. Often the purpose of providing bags is to make money. Two days back I saw my wife putting coke bottle into a bag made for carrying optical glasses. It looked really strange but that is the truth. I am buying for one entity but then what gets noticed is another entity which gave me the bag ;).
Big shop owners have bargain power which can provides bags for lesser price but I feel they are not interested in doing that. They don’t know what they are losing in the process


Anna December 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I think a good, less stressful solution would be to charge for the plastic bags in case you forget them at home and not banning them totally from the stores. Reusable bags should be sold at the stores as a good alternative (I am using these, I have always a couple of them in my car and in my handbag).


Ashvini Kumar Saxena December 20, 2011 at 4:17 am

Hey Anna,

They do charge for the bags but then they still don’t help the cause of environment protection they espouse. What I wish them is to procure jute/cloth bags which are cheaper and do not cause harm to environment. They can do it but I don’t understand why they are not doing it already.
Thanks for your comments. Wish you a great day


Rochelle December 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

South Africa stopped free plastic bags with your purchase about 4 years ago.
You now pay a small amount, and they ask you if you want one or not.
Alternatively, you see a lot of people with those fabric bags, they also sell those at the shops,
which is great cause its safe for the environment and you can just keep using them over and over, and saving yourself loads of money that adds up!


Ashvini Kumar Saxena December 20, 2011 at 4:20 am

Hey Rochelle,

Thanks for your comment :). Plastic bags , if they are not biodegradable need to go out. However the alternatives have to be cheap and easy to use. I don’t see malls making an all out effort to make customer use them. They are mostly bucking the responsibility of procuring cheap good bags.


Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech December 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hi Ashvini, In England, some stores started charging a few pence for plastic bags. Use of reusable bags is much more common there so you began to see people bring their bags into the malls.

Other stores fought the environmental issue by using degradable bags. What a surprise when you tried to use one a few months later – it would fall apart!

I agree with you about the sanitation and inconvenience. Perhaps degradable bags are the answer.


Ashvini Kumar Saxena December 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hey Carolyn,

Stores here never thought of it till one day government came out with a regulation. It was then convenient for them to dump the cost on consumers. Not a very smart move. The alternatives are difficult to procure.
Bag falling apart is the worst thing :). No doubt.
Malls need to work a little harder to get the alternatives


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