Con­sumer Voice sup­ports min­istry of con­sumer af­fairs’ de­ci­sion to make ser­vice charge vol­un­tary in all restau­rants

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

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.

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