Consumer Voice supports ministry of consumer affairs’ decision to make service charge voluntary in all restaurants
Consumer Voice has come out in complete support of the recent decision by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution to make service charge optional in restaurants. Some hotels and restaurants charge their customers over and above the service tax, by adding service charge to the bill—apparently to be shared by staff members. Not only this, some customers have been paying tips to waiters in addition to the service charge, under the mistaken impression that service charge is a part of the taxes. Also, some restaurants are known to prevent customers from entering their premises if they disagree to pay the service charge. “This is a welcome and a much-needed move by the government. As customers we should not be coerced into paying service charge, and it should not be a part of the billing process either. It is voluntary and depends on customer satisfaction,” said Ashim Sanyal, chief operating officer, Consumer VOICE. As per the new guidelines issued by the ministry, the column of service charge in the bill will be left blank for customers to fill up before making the final payment. Heavy and stringent fines will be imposed against any violation. A customer should have the liberty to decide how much they should pay only after completing the meal, and not when he or she places the order or enters the restaurant. A meal at a restaurant should be a relaxing one and not a taxing one. Consumer VOICE has started opinion polls on Facebook and Twitter to get the mandate of consumers on the issue.