Restaurant Service Charge Update: Restaurants can no longer charge customers forcible service charges. The Department of Consumer Affairs has issued a warning in this regard. There were complaints that restaurants force customers to forcibly pay service charges. In view of these complaints, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has also called a meeting of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) on June 2.
The ministry has called this meeting after taking cognizance of media reports and complaints lodged by customers on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH). Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh also wrote a letter to the NRAI chairman, saying that restaurants and eateries are wrongly charging service charges from customers even though the collection of any such charges is ‘voluntary’.
Customers are misled by putting pressure
The consumer affairs secretary has also said in his letter that customers are forced to pay service charges. These fees are fixed by restaurants at arbitrarily high rates. When consumers request removal of such charges from the bill amount, attempts are being made to legitimize such charges by misleading them.
customer rights issue
The letter also clearly states that this issue affects the consumers on a daily basis. This is also an issue of their rights, so the Department of Consumer Affairs has decided to examine it closely and in detail. In a meeting convened on June 2, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will discuss consumer complaints regarding inclusion of service charge in the bill under the guise of any other fee or service charge by the restaurant.
Here are the service charge guidelines
In the guidelines issued by the Government of India on April 21, 2017 regarding Service Charge, it was clearly said that it is coming in the notice that some hotels and restaurants are charging tip or service charge without the consent of the customer. Many a times, even after paying the service charge in the bill, customers give a tip to the waiter separately thinking that the charge in the bill will be part of the tax.
In many places it is also written in hotels and restaurants that if the consumer does not necessarily agree to pay the service charge, then they should not come there. Also, the price of food is written in it, it is believed that service is associated with the price of food. In this unfair trade off practice, the consumer can approach the consumer court.
Generally, when the customer sees the menu, the price and tax of the food item is written in it and only when it is ready, the consumer orders. But, in addition to this, any charge taken without the consent of the customer is an unfair trade off practice.
Tip is always in the right of the consumer. In such a situation, it should be clearly written in the bill that the service charge is at the discretion of the consumer and the column of service charge can be kept blank so that the consumer himself fills the amount before payment.