Centre advises diners to move court if restaurants ask for service charge | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Centre advises diners to move court if restaurants ask for service charge

The department has advised the consumers to move the consumer courts against the erring restaurants and hotels if slapped service charges.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2017 23:13 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja
It  had issued guidelines in April prohibiting the eateries from charging service charges, which it had said should be left to the discretion of the consumers.
It had issued guidelines in April prohibiting the eateries from charging service charges, which it had said should be left to the discretion of the consumers.(File)

Department of consumers affairs has reiterated that the service charges being charged from the diners by the eateries is an illegal act.

The department has advised the consumers to move the consumer courts against the erring restaurants and hotels if slapped service charges.

It had issued guidelines in April prohibiting the eateries from charging service charges, which it had said should be left to the discretion of the consumers.

Avinash K Shrivastava, secretary, department of consumers affairs said that the service charges are something like a tip which is voluntary on the part of the consumer whether to pay or not.

“We issued guidelines to this effect on service charges in April. The consumers should move a consumer court if they find violation. They can come to us also and we can guide them on how to go about against those violating the guidelines. Our role is of mediation and persuasion,” he said.

“Service charge is illegal as there no such thing like service charge and should be paid voluntarily. The customer has right to say no to this and can refuse to pay. The hotels are not authorised to charge service charge. It’s between customer and hotel, if customer wants to pay they can but can also say no.”

“Under best practices, we have written in the advisory that a column should be left on the bill, and customer to decide how he wants to pay, it’s something hotel cannot decide. Guidelines to this effect were issued on April 23,” said Shrivastava.

Score of eateries, restaurants and hotels continue to slap service charges on their customers even two months after the government issued related guidelines.

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has maintained that the restaurants charging service charges were not violating law and said that the guidelines are not laws.

Prakul Kumar, secretary general, NRAI, said in a written statement, “Guidelines are not laws. The present statements by the government are causing unnecessary confusion in public, which is adversely affecting the smooth functioning of restaurants. It is once again reiterated that as of now levy of service charge by restaurants is legal and does not violate provisions of the law.