Restaurateurs and consumers react to the Centre’s reiteration that guests dissatisfied with service could choose not to pay service charge.
The next time you choose to dine out at one of your favourite eateries, you will have the liberty of not paying service charge if you are not happy with the service. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) on Monday announced that customers could choose to have service charge waived off, if not satisfied with the experience. City-based restaurateurs feel that though this practice won’t cause a major dent in their business, it’ll definitely be unfair for their employees. “Business in terms of footfall will not be affected. But it will have a large impact on the salary and employee costs as service charge is an essential part of the income of the staff. The restaurant will have to compensate them for the loss of this income. Since we charge the customers service charge with their knowledge and consent, the practice isn’t unfair,” says Saloni Rupani, partner at Dishkiyoon — an all-day diner and bar.
Ansh Seth, co-founder at Brewbot, concurs. He adds, “I’m don’t know about other establishments, but at Brewbot we share 80 per cent of the service charge with our staff for the efforts put by them and 20 per cent is kept for breakages (which customers are not charged for separately in case of breakages/damages). Also, in case of an unhappy customer, we provide discounts/complementary dishes/beverages, which in turn, work out to more than the service charge amount charged to the customers,” he elaborates.
Chef and partner at Lemon Leaf restaurant Mitesh Rangras agrees that a disappointed customer has every right to ask for a waiver. “Having said that, the restaurant business is becoming more and more competitive and a fair wage for everyone in the restaurant service is important. Earlier, the tips used to go only to the service staff and there was a big gap in the money that the kitchen and service staff was making. Since service charge is distributed equally amongst all departments based on grades, it helps motivate everyone and improve team morale. Abroad, restaurants charge up to 25-30% gratuity, which no one scoffs at. I’m not saying we need to go there but it happens. What’s going on is a good system, which most people are used to and happy to accommodate,” he adds.