A third of restaurant goers don’t even notice the ‘unfair’ service charge on their bills

  • Around 37% of the Indian customers paid the service charge at restaurants in the last one month, as per a new survey.
  • Very few customers are standing up against forced service charges levied by the restaurants .
  • Central government warned the restaurants over levying service charges on customers and has called out for a meeting with the NRAI to discuss the matter on June 2.

Indians who have just about started going back to restaurants after a long pause, do not seem to mind a lot – like extra service charges added on to their bills.

As per a survey by LocalCircles, a community social-media platform, over 37% of the Indian consumers who went to AC restaurants in the last one month, paid these charges.

Service charges are classified as an unfair trade practice and the Department of Consumer Affairs issued advisories in 2017 to restaurants to stop it. As per their guidelines, consumers must ‘consent to pay service charge’.

Most of this consent however is on a ‘default’ mode as the report says that over 33% of the customers didn’t pay attention to whether the restaurant had added the service charge or not.

“Since this issue impacts consumers at large on a daily basis and has significant ramifications on the rights of consumers, the department construed it necessary to examine it with closer scrutiny and detail,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary of The Department of Consumer Affairs in a letter to the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI).

Customers don’t care — but consumer affairs department does

Only 7% of the survey respondents said that the restaurant did charge them but they got it removed. And this number of people not paying them has gone down from 39% in 2018 to 30% now. The survey received over 7,000 responses residing in 271 districts in India.

The department has called a meeting with the NRAI to discuss the matter on June 2.

“The meeting will discuss restaurants making service charges compulsory; adding service charges to the bill in the guise of some other fee or charge; suppressing from consumers that paying service charges is optional and voluntary; and embarrassing consumers in case they resist from paying the service charge,” the letter said.

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