New Delhi: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued guidelines for preventing unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights with regard hotels and restaurants levying service charge, stating that the consumer may lodge a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) against such practice.
The guidelines issued by the CCPA stipulate that hotels or restaurants shall not add service charge automatically or by default in the food bill.
“No collection of service charge shall be done by any other name. No hotel or restaurant shall force a consumer to pay service charge and shall clearly inform the consumer that service charge is voluntary/optional and at the consumer’s discretion.
“No restriction on entry or provision of services based on collection of service charge shall be imposed on consumers. Service charge shall not be collected by adding it along with the food bill and levying GST on the total amount.”
The CCPA said that the consumer may make a request to the concerned hotel or restaurant to remove service charge from the bill amount. The consumer may also lodge a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which works as an alternate dispute redressal mechanism at the pre-litigation level by calling 1915 or through the NCH mobile app.
The consumer may also file a complaint against unfair trade practices with the Consumer Commission. The complaint can also be filed electronically through the e-daakhil portal — www.e-daakhil.nic.in — for its speedy and effective redressal.
The consumer can also lodge a complaint with the district collector of the concerned district for investigation and subsequent proceedings by the CCPA. The complaint can be sent to the CCPA by e-mail .
The CCPA said that the issues raised by the consumers include restaurants making service charge compulsory and adding it to the bill by default, suppressing that paying such charge is optional and voluntary and embarrassing consumers in case they resist paying service charge.