The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) in India has issued new guidelines to prevent restaurants and hotels from adding default service charges to food bills amid growing complaints.
In a statement, India’s Ministry of Consumer, Food and Public Distribution said the new guidelines had been issued to combat “unfair trading practices” and to protect consumer rights related to the collection of service charge.
The statement continued: “A number of complaints have been registered with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) by consumers regarding the collection of service charges.
“Issues raised by consumers include restaurants making service charges mandatory and defaulting them to the bill, removing that paying these charges is optional and voluntary, and embarrassing consumers in case they resist paying service charges. service.”
According to the latest guidelines, restaurants or hotels cannot add a service charge to the bill automatically or by default. Restaurants are also prohibited from charging service fees under other names.
Additionally, hotels and restaurants are required to advise customers that these charges are completely voluntary and may only be added to a bill at the customer’s discretion.
The guidelines also state that consumers can request the removal of service charges.
If the restaurant fails to comply, the consumer can file a complaint with the NCH or the Consumers Commission for redress.
Meanwhile, the vice-president of the Federation of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Associations, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, told The Times of India that the companies are following most of the guidelines issued by the CCPA.