PC: The Indian Express

Service charge by hotels/restaurants not mandatory: Govt

New Delhi: New Year comes with good news for food lovers across the country! In the wake of a number of complaints from consumers that they are being forced to pay service charge in the range of 5-20 per cent, in lieu of tips, irrespective of the kind of service provided to them, the government has said that a consumer can now refuse to pay the service charge if he/she is not satisfied with their dining experience.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 stipulates 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.

In accordance to the act, the department of Consumer Affairs called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which in response stated that the service charge is completely discretionary and, therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily.

The Central government, in a press release, has also directed the state governments to “sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.”

In addition, it has asked state governments “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.”

So the next time you’re at a restaurant or a cafe and you’re not happy with the experience, remember — you have the right to say no to that service charge printed on your bill.

Source:The Indian Express

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