The decision was taken after the government received several complaints that the charge in many restaurants was unfair.
New Delhi: In a welcome move for those who love to eat out, the government on Monday clarified that customers have the right to say no to the service charge if they are not happy with the dining experience.
The hotel industry charges anywhere between 5 to 20 per cent on the bill in lieu of tips but the government said that it’s not mandatory to pay for it. The decision was taken after the government received several complaints that the charge in many restaurants was unfair as the quality of their service was not up to the mark.
“The Central Government has called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which have replied that the service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience he/she can have it waived off. Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily,” said the statement released by the government.
“The service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience he/she can have it waived off. Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily," said the Hotel Association of India to NDTV.
The Centre has also directed all state governments to inform restaurants and hotels about this policy and also spread awareness among consumers about the same.
“The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the State Governments to sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and also to advise the Hotels/Restaurants to disseminate information through display at the appropriate place in the hotels/restaurants that the 'service charges" are discretionary/ voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off,” the statement said.
Highlighting provisions under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the ministry said this law provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or the supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an unfair trade practice.
A consumer can make a complaint to the appropriate consumer forum against such unfair trade practices.