Service charge on restaurant bill totally voluntary: Consumer Commission

KOLKATA: Stating that restaurants cannot forcibly impose a service charge on customers, the Kolkata Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed a restaurant to refund the amount imposed as a service charge.

A Bench, comprising president Swapan Kumar Mahanty and member Ashok Kumar Ganguly, ruled that stipulating service charge on a restaurant bill is totally voluntary. The charge is not mandatory as per the guidelines of Fair Trade Practice issued by the Central government. "The OPs must have been aware of the guidelines of Fair Trade Practice relating to charging of service charge from consumers by hotels/restaurants issued by Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, inter alia stipulating that service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is totally voluntary and not mandatory," read the order.

Meanwhile, restaurant owners in the city claimed that they were struggling to make ends meet due to a sharp fall in customer footfall, following GST and night restrictions due to the pandemic.

"On January 2, 2022, after the state government restricted movement of people after 10 pm, there is a reduction of 60 per cent of customers in comparison to last year," said an official of Arsalan.

He reiterated that sales have reduced to more than half of what it was during the pre-pandemic days when shops used to be packed with customers.

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