Pay service charges only if you are pleased

In the wake of a number of complaints from consumers that they are being forced to pay service charge in the range of 5-20 per cent in hotels and restaurants, irrespective of the kind of service provided to them, the government has said that a consumer can now refuse to pay the service charge if he/she is not satisfied with the dining experience.

In accordance to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the department of consumer affairs called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which in response stated that the service charge is completely discretionary and therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily.

The central government, in a press release, has directed the state governments to ‘sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.’

In addition, it has asked state governments ‘to advise the hotels/ restaurants to disseminate information through display at the appropriate place in the hotels/ restaurants that the ‘service charges’ are discretionary/ voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off.”

So, the next time you’re at a restaurant or a cafe and you’re not happy with the experience, you can always say no to the excessive service charge.


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