New Delhi: Hotels or restaurant shall, henceforth, not add service charge automatically or by default in food bills.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued guidelines to this effect for preventing unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights with regard to levying of service charge in hotels and restaurants.
In May, the Union government had called a meeting of restaurant owners over this issue.
Following are the norms to be followed:
* No collection of service charge by any other name
* No hotel or restaurant shall force a consumer to pay service charge and shall clearly inform the consumer that service charge is voluntary, optional and at consumer’s discretion
* No restriction on entry or provision of services based on collection of service charge shall be imposed on consumers
* Service charge shall not be collected by adding it along with the food bill and levying GST on the total amount
Further, if any consumer finds a hotel or restaurant levying service charge in violation of the guidelines, he or she may make a request to the concerned hotel or restaurant to remove service charge from the bill amount.
The consumer may lodge a complaint on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) by calling 1915 or through the NCH mobile app.
The consumer also has the option of filing a complaint against unfair trade practice with the Consumer Commission. The complaint can be filed electronically through e-daakhil portal www.e-daakhil.nic.in for speedy and effective redressal.
Additionally, the consumer may submit a complaint to the District Collector of the concerned district for investigation and subsequent proceeding by the CCPA. The complaint may be sent to the CCPA by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several cases relating to levying of service charge have been decided by consumer commissions in favour of consumers.
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