Did you just pay a big bill at a restaurant, even though you were not satisfied with the service? From now on, you can get the ‘service charge’ on your bill waived off, if you are dissatisfied with the dining experience, the government has said. According to a release by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, “service charge is completely discretionary”. The news would add big cheer to people who are sometimes charged “unfairly” in the bill for services that they are not happy with at restaurants and hotels.
“A number of complaints from consumers have been received that hotels and restaurants are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20%, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or the supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an unfair trade practice and that a consumer can make a complaint to the appropriate consumer forum established under the Act against such unfair trade practices,” the release says.
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“In this context, the department of Consumer Affairs, Central Government has called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which have replied that the service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience he/she can have it waived off. Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily,” it clarifies.
“The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the state governments to sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and also to advise the Hotels/Restaurants to disseminate information through display at the appropriate place in the hotels/restaurants that the ‘service charges” are discretionary/ voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off,” the release adds.