Ever grumbled about paying service charges on your restaurant bill despite getting lousy service or a bad dining experience? Well, you can rejoice now.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has announced that the ‘service charges’, which restaurants include in addition to taxes, are actually optional --- and not mandatory.
A Press and Information Bureau release on January 2 clearly states that service charge is payable only on the consumer’s discretion and can be waived off if the customer is not happy with the service.
The service charge is levied by restaurants and usually falls in the range of 5-20% of the total bill amount.
Following complaints from consumers, the Department of Consumer Affairs has declared that making service charge compulsory is an unfair trade practice .
Restaruants are billing service charges in addition to taxes. Service charge is optional . Consumer has a discretion to pay or not.— Consumer Affairs (@jagograhakjago) January 2, 2017
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that a consumer can make a complaint to the appropriate consumer forum established under the Act against unfair method or deceptive practice, the PIB release says.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the state governments to sensitize companies, hotels and restaurants. It has advised the places to spread the information to customers through displays at appropriate places in their premises.
The Hotel Association of India has responded, clarifying that the service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience, he/she can have it waived off.
Twitter was quick to react to the news.
Restaurants can't force you to pay 'service charge' on food bill. Totally up to the customer to pay or not. (Govt)— Manak Gupta (@manakgupta) January 2, 2017
If service charge / tip is optional or voluntary, then why shd restaurants / hotels bill it in the first place. Revert to Old tip system.— Jeetender Gupta (@jguptallb) January 2, 2017
i'm going to use this to evade service tax also. https://t.co/etLbpjtGxk— Suraj Sharma (@sovietskull) January 2, 2017
clarification of service charge will ad confusion. Most people confuse service charge and service tax.— Manivannan Aru (@mvaru) January 2, 2017
Dumb of consumer ministry to say 'pay the service charge' if you want. Why not abolish it,let people tip if they want? #HalfMeasuresDontWork— Sunil Jain (@thesuniljain) January 2, 2017
Heard most waiters say that #servicecharge is pocketed by management and not passed on to them. Good that govt says it is up to you to pay— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) January 2, 2017
Not happy with service? Don't pay service charge at restaurants!— Atul Khatri (@one_by_two) January 2, 2017
By the same logic
Not happy with Infrastructure?Don't pay taxes to Govt!