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Irked by bad service at restaurants? Don't pay service charge

The Centre has reiterated on January 2 that customers who are not satisfied with service could choose not to pay the service charge levied by a hotel or restaurant.

However, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has issued a statement implying that customers were free not to eat at a restaurant if they did not wish to pay the service charge levied by it.

The government had clarified earlier in Parliament that the authorities could act against those levying a service charge without the knowledge and consent of consumers on charges of indulging in ‘unfair trade practices’.

NRAI, which represents independent restaurants and chains, said levying service charge was a ‘common and accepted practice’ that was ‘recognised as such’ by various government departments.

The ministry said this was being done as it had received many complaints from customers who said they were being forced to pay service charge, in lieu of tips, of anything between 5% and 20% ‘irrespective of the kind of service provided’.