New Delhi: The government plans to issue an advisory to states asking them to crack down against unfair imposition of service charge on food and drink bills, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.
“Service charge does not exist. It is being wrongly charged. We have prepared an advisory on this issue. We have sent it to the PMO for approval,” Paswan told reporters. A senior ministry official said the advisory, once approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), will be issued to all states and union territories.
The advisory will also be useful for Voluntary Consumer Organisations (VCOs) fighting for consumer right, he said. “No customer should be forced to pay service charge. If customers want they can pay a tip to waiters or give their consent to levy the charge in the bill,” the official said while explaining the nature of proposed advisory.
The levying of service charge without seeking customer consent will be considered as unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, he added. The minister said consumers should be informed about service charge in the menu card itself.
Earlier too, on several occasions, Paswan spoke against unfair imposition of service charge on food bill and had even sought explanation from hotels and restaurants’ bodies. In January, the department of consumer affairs stated that service charge on food bills is not compulsory and a customer can choose to have it waived if not satisfied with experience.