Restaurants and hotels can no longer put service charge as part of the bill.
New Delhi: The government on Friday sent guidelines to all states saying service charges in hotels and restaurants were “totally voluntary” and not mandatory anymore.
This essentially means that the prices mentioned in the menu include the service charge component and any amount to be paid above the bill is totally voluntary on the part of the customer.
It is now upto customers to decide how much they want to pay as tips depending on their satisfaction levels on the quality of service provided. Restaurants and hotels can no longer put service charge as part of the bill.
“Hotels and restaurants should not decide how much service charge is to be paid by the customer and it should be left to the discretion of customer,” Food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan tweeted.
The minister said that Centre has approved the guidelines on service charges and the same were being sent to states for necessary action at their ends.
“As per the guidelines, service charge is totally voluntary and not mandatory now. The government has approved guidelines on service charge,” he said.
Though the minister had made this observation about service charges earlier, no guidelines had been sent to the states. Even with the current guidelines, the implementation part rested with the state governments.
“A component of the service is inherent in the food and beverages ordered. Pricing of the products is therefore expected to cover both goods and service components”.
The guidelines also say that charging the customer anything else without the express consent of the customer would amount to unfair trade practices.
Mr Paswan has taken many consumer friendly decision since assuming office. Recently he said that five star hotels and restaurants should fix portion sizes and mention it in the menu. This would help stop the wastage of food.