Speaking on the proposed guidelines of making service charges in hotels and restaurants totally ‘voluntary’, the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday said that “Restaurants take service charge, say they give a portion from it to service staff, it should be accounted.” Later in the day, the Department of Consumer Affairs also said that charging anything other than aforementioned charges, without consent of customer would amount to unfair trade practice, informed ANI. The department also said that placing order by customer amounts to his/her agreement to pay prices on menu card along with applicable taxes.
On April 21, the government had announced that dining in hotels and restaurants will be cheaper as service charges on food bills will be ‘totally voluntary’ now. Taking to micro-blogging website Twitter, Paswan had said that government has approved guidance on service charges and it is totally voluntary and not mandatory. “Hotels/Restaurants should not decide how much Service Charge is to be paid by the customer &it should be left to the discretion of customer,” he tweeted. He also informed that guidelines are being sent to states for necessary actions at their ends.
You might also want to see this:
According to an Indian Express report, the column of service charge in a bill will be left blank for customers to fill up before making the payment. Speaking to PTI, a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official said “If there is mandatory levy of service charge, customers can file a complaint in the Consumer Court.” The official also mentioned that hefty fines and stringent action against violation cannot be taken at the moment as current Consumer Protection Law does not allow it. However, once a revised Bill will be placed, the ministry will have power to take action against the same, he added further.
Paswan, last week, had also informed that the ministry has prepared an advisory on service charge issue and was sent to the PMO for further approval. “Service charge does not exist. It is being wrongly charged. We have prepared an advisory on this issue. We have sent it to the PMO for approval,” Indian Express quoted Paswan.