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Friday, April 21, 2017

Service charge at hotels and restaurants ‘totally voluntary’, govt issues guidelines Friday April 21,2017

Service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is “totally voluntary” --- and not mandatory, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday April 21,2017 after the government approved the relevant guidelines.
Hotels and restaurants will not decide on service charge to be levied, but it will be at a customer’s discretion, the minister said, adding these guidelines will be sent to states for necessary action.
“The government has approved guidelines on service charge. As per the guidelines, service charge is totally voluntary and not mandatory now,” Paswan said in a tweet.
“Hotels/restaurants should not decide how much service charge is to be paid by the customer and it should be left to the discretion of customer,” he added.
Guidelines are being sent to states for necessary action at their ends.
As per the guidelines, the column of service charge in a bill will be left blank to customers to fill up before making the final payment.
“If there is mandatory levy of service charge, customers can file a complaint in the Consumer Court,” a senior consumer affairs ministry official told 
Hefty fines and stringent action against violation cannot be taken at present as the current Consumer Protection Law does not empower the ministry to do so, the official said.

However, the new Consumer Protection Bill under which an authority will be set up will have powers to take action, the official added.

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