Sixty-eight per cent of respondents in a country-wide survey say the service charge levied by hotels and restaurants should be optional, while 27 per cent opposed it. Five per cent of the 26,000 respondents did not respond in the survey by LocalCircles citizen engagement platform.
Where 61 per cent supported the changing the name of service charge to service tip, 33 per cent did not agree to this and 6 per cent did not comment.
The survey also found that 68 per cent people were willing to pay a tip for good service if it goes to the restaurant staff, 26 per cent were not willing to pay the tip, while 6 per cent chose can’t say as their answer.
This implies that a majority of people are in favour of paying tips.
This exercise was conducted after the Ministry of Consumer Affairs issued a notification on Jan 2 stating that the service charge is completely discretionary and a customer, dissatisfied with the dining experience, can have it waived off.
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Almost 42 per cent of respondents believed that the service charge goes to the management, 26 per cent felt that some part of it was shared with the staff, while only 5 per cent of consumers believed that the whole of it was shared by the staff.
This means that distrust with the collection and utilisation of this charge is very high among consumers. The rationale offered by restaurants for levying a compulsory service charge on all consumers is that it ensures tips to their serving staff.
People were also asked if they wanted the whole of the service cost to be incorporated in the main bill and wanted the tip to be made a completely voluntary thing. To this, 59 per cent said yes, while 37 per cent said no and 4 per cent were non-committal.