Customers, restaurant staffers fight over service charge of ₹970 in Noida, five arrested
A video depicting the fracas surfaced on social media on Monday, showing restaurant staff and customers engaged in a physical and verbal confrontation
A brawl erupted at a restaurant-bar in Sector 75 in Noida on Sunday evening after a group of customers fought with the restaurant staff over a service charge of ₹970 levied on a total bill of ₹11,290, police officers familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Officers associated with the case said that five people, including three restaurant employees and two customers, were arrested under charges pertaining to assault, rioting, and intentional insult.
According to investigators, a group of 15 people had gone for dinner to the Float restaurant in Spectrum Mall on Sunday evening. “A heated argument concerning service charges arose during the billing process, which escalated into a scuffle between the diners and restaurant staff,” said deputy commissioner of police (Noida) Harish Chander.
A video depicting the fracas surfaced on social media on Monday, showing restaurant staff and customers engaged in a physical and verbal confrontation.
According to Jitendra Singh, station house officer of Sector 113 police station, the incident occurred at 9pm. “The group booked through a third-party application, with the reservation placed by a Sector 51 resident celebrating her future daughter-in-law’s birthday. They were eligible for a 50% discount through the app. However, when the restaurant staff added a service charge to the bill, the diners its removal,” said Singh.
On receiving information about the case, a team from Sector 113 police station promptly arrived at the scene. “The injured parties were medically examined, and written complaints from both sides were taken,” the officer said, adding that a first information report was filed under charges pertaining to assault, rioting, insult and Section 354 (assault with intent to outrage modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
“The FIR was registered against six unidentified suspects from both sides. Five people were arrested based on video footage from the incident,” said Saumya Singh, assistant commissioner of police-3, Noida.
A restaurant spokesperson alleged that the diners had intentionally brought more people to participate in the violence. “The dispute started over a ₹970 service charge, even though the group received a 50% discount on their bill. As it stands, the bill remains unpaid, and there was substantial damage to the restaurant property,” the spokesperson said, adding that several staff members sustained injuries in the clash.
The restro-bar, an affiliate of the Duty Free chain of restaurants, has been operational in the mall for three months.
Meanwhile, Varun Khera, president of the National Restaurants Association of India (Noida chapter), remarked on the increasing frequency of “customer rage” incidents in the city’s hospitality industry. “Our responsibility as a restaurant association is to ensure everyone’s safety, including our staff. For us, the customer is god, but the respect needs to be mutual,” he said.
Brawls in restaurants in the city have been reported previously also. For example, a Noida resident was beaten to death allegedly by restaurant staff at a Sector 38A pub on April 27, 2022. Furthermore, on May 4, 2022, three customers reportedly stabbed a restaurant employee at an eatery in Sector 9.
For years, the government and consumer bodies have argued that a service charge is illegal even as the restaurant lobby has claimed that it is standard practice in the hospitality industry. On July 4, 2022, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) formalised its stand when the authority issued a notification that barred restaurants from automatically adding service charges to food bills.
On July 20, 2022, the Delhi high court put the CCPA order on hold following petitions by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI).
The high court is expected to hear the matter on July 24.