Consumer need not pay service charge, it is unfair trade practice: Ram Vilas Paswan

While service tax is a mandatory component in the restaurant’s bill, service charges by law has always been a voluntary component.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 11, 2017 6:59 pm
Service charge, Restaurants service charge, Restaurants service tax, Consumers service charge Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan (File Photo)

Close on the heels of Centre’s decision announcing that service charge on a food bill is not compulsory, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday echoed the government’s decision when he said consumers need not pay service charge, it is unfair trade practice. He also said the price list in hotel menu cards should reflect all costs, including service charge, adding that service charge paid by consumers should be given to poor waiters.

Paswan also mentioned that in future such cases would be addressed effectively as a provision has been made in the new Consumer Protection Bill to set up a regulator CCPA. The bill is likely to see the passage in the forthcoming budget session of Parliament.

Addressing the media on this issue, Paswan said: “Our Department’s view is that imposing service charge is an unfair trade practice and consumers need not pay.” There is no definition of ‘service charge’ in law but taking service charge without discretion of consumers is an “unfair trade practice”, he said.

While service tax is a mandatory component in the restaurant’s bill, service charges by law has always been a voluntary component. This charge, by law, is supposed to be levied only if the customer is happy with the service. The amount so collected goes to the accounts of the waiters which the restaurants deposit at regular intervals.

Earlier this week, the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry had said in an official statement that it has also asked the states to ensure that hotels/restaurants disseminate this information through displays at their premises. Arbitrary surcharge being levied as part of the bill by some hotels and restaurants in the name of service charge has been a major sore point with consumers, with many consumer rights groups also filing complaints with the government over this practice.

“A number of complaints from consumers have been received that hotels and restaurants are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20 per cent, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him,” the ministry had said.

(With PTI inputs)

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  1. H
    Hindustan Hamara
    Jan 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm
    Paswan mal bana aur Ji huzori kar. Koi power hai tere pas to law bana kar khatna kar ise. Public ko rahat de!
    1. A
      Jan 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm
      Such charges separately collected also help in evading other taxes chargeable on the hotel s. Why separate service charge ? Someone will start charging separately electricity charge then Transportation charge then AC charge then Bar charges then Maintenance charge so on and on and on - Hotelier should add all of their cost and the menu price should be the Maximum Price Inclusive of even all TAXES
      1. R
        Rakesh Pandit
        Jan 11, 2017 at 3:58 pm
        Abey lorey, bahut bolta hai....
        1. R
          Rakesh Pandit
          Jan 11, 2017 at 3:56 pm
          Hotels want separate service charge as it is not taxable. Actually, their menu should be inclusive of all taxes.
          1. K
            Jan 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm
            What about service charges by banks?
            1. L
              l s
              Jan 11, 2017 at 11:49 am
              Instead of giving lectures, ban it. Make stringent punishment for anyone who demands service charges.
              1. M
                Mahender Goriganti
                Jan 11, 2017 at 5:19 pm
                Service charges is nothing but bribe and a narrowed culture from america where they nothing for restaurant and bartenders.
                1. S
                  Jan 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm
                  IT IS A MONEY MAKING RACKET
                  1. O
                    Jan 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm
                    Only a few thousand customers are involved on a day for various restaurants but millions of customers are involved daily for cooking gas cylinders supplies. .It is also unfair trade practice on the part of gas agencies to indicate in their cash memos only the net amount payable, without giving break-ups of various pricing components totalling the nett amount payable by the gas consumers every month . These pricing components blacked out in the gas dealers cash memos are: door delivery charges, s tax/VAT, subsidy amount etc. This unfair trade practice daily by thousands of gas agencies in the country is going on for years now. The subsidy amount payable also must be included in the cash memo besides other pricing components as above so that the consumers may know whether correct gas subsidy amount or much less amount is actually credited to their account, for claiming the differential subsidy amount due to them if any. Sufficient publicity for the variable gas subsidy amount is also lacking . Let the total cost break-ups as above be given in the cash memos at least now onwards by gas agencies/dealers in the country for supply of millions of cooking gas cylinders daily. . Transparency parameters ka takaza hai. . Until such time fresh cash memos are printed, gas dealers can issue computer print outs for the purpose. Many times the printed cash memos are hardly readable; printer ink cartridge obviously dried up and need replacement cartridges but not done in many cases many times ; cost saving measure?As for extra door delivery charges collected unofficially as tips by many gas delivery boys, the less said the better. Pestering of consumers in this context during door delivery. needs to be avoided at least from now onwards. How many of these delivery boys are carrying card swiping machines and weighing scales by the way? Surprise checks also lacking.
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