After receiving good response for the ongoing WhatsApp campaign against hefty service charges levied by the hoteliers, the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) has initiated an online survey of consumer reactions to the issue. Through the survey, they are trying to find if people are willing or reluctant to pay the service charge, will they ask for a waiver and if they are aware about the government advisory that prohibits hoteliers from levying it.
“We are conducting the survey in two phases. In the first phase, we have collected evidences in form of restaurant bills and in the other, we are taking consumers’ opinions on the matter. This will be presented to the ministry of consumer affairs to inform them that their advisory is impractical and they should drop the service charges completely,” said Shirish Deshpande, MGP chairman.
The consumer body is also conducting a mobile campaign in which consumers have been asked to WhatsApp their restaurant bills with service charges to 99875 55665 by January 23.
In December, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution department of consumer affairs had issued an advisory to all state governments stating that charging service charges in range of 5%-20% in the food bill is an unfair trade practice. The advisory added that the service charge should be discretionary of the customer, who can also ask for a waiver if dissatisfied with the service. But irrespective of the advisory, majority of hoteliers in the state continue to levy service charges.
Meanwhile, hoteliers have started putting up posters saying service charges will be levied right at the entrance so that customers are aware of the additional charge well in advance and can avoid the restaurant if they don’t want to pay it. “Following the advisory, we have started displaying the note at the entrance so that it is easier for the customers to opt for other restaurants if they wish to not pay the service charge,” said Adarsh Shetty, Indian Hotel And Restaurant Association.