The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on Monday banned hotels and restaurants from adding service charges “automatically or by default” to the food bill. He said that in the event of a violation, a consumer can ask the hotel/restaurant to waive the service charge or seek redress by filing a complaint.
“Guidelines issued by the CCPA state that hotels or restaurants should not add a service charge automatically or by default to the food bill. No collection of service charges will be made under any other name,” the Union Department of Consumer Food and Public Distribution said in a statement.
“No hotel or restaurant should force a consumer to pay a service charge and should clearly inform the consumer that the service charge is voluntary, optional and at the discretion of the consumer,” he said.
The ministry clarified that there should be no restrictions on entry or provision of services based on charging service fees. “The service charge will not be collected by adding it to the food bill and charging GST on the total amount,” he said.
“If a consumer finds that a hotel or restaurant is charging a service charge in violation of the guidelines, a consumer may ask the hotel or restaurant concerned to remove the service charge from the amount of the bill,” it said. -he declares.
“In addition, the consumer can file a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which operates as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism at the pre-litigation level, by calling 1915 or via the NCH mobile app,” it said. -he declares. “The consumer can also lodge a complaint against an unfair commercial practice with the Consumer Commission,” he said.
According to the guidelines issued by the CCPA to “prevent unfair commercial practices and the violation of consumer rights with regard to the collection of service charges in hotels and restaurants”, consumers can file complaints online, via the e-daakhil portal (www.e-daakhil.nic.in). Additionally, they may file a complaint with the District Collector for further investigation and prosecution by the CCAC. Consumers can also email their complaints to the CCPA at [email protected]
“A number of complaints have been registered with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) by consumers regarding the collection of service charges,” the ministry statement said. “Issues raised by consumers include restaurants making service charges mandatory and defaulting them to the bill, removing that paying these charges is optional and voluntary, and embarrassing consumers in case they resist paying the charges. service,” he said.
“Various cases relating to the collection of service fees have also been decided by consumer commissions in favor of consumers, considering them an unfair commercial practice and in violation of consumer rights,” he added.
In a meeting with the Center on June 2, hotel and restaurant representatives said charging service fees was a “matter of individual policy” and that there was “no illegality collect such fees”. Following the meeting, Piyush Goyal, the Union’s consumer, food and public distribution minister, said restaurants could not ask customers to pay “hidden fees”.