Hotels, restaurants can't levy service charges in food bill

NEW DELHI: In regards to hotels and restaurants that impose service charges, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued guidelines for preventing unfair trade practises and violations of consumer rights, stating that the consumer may file a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) against such practise.

According to the CCPA's standards, service charges cannot be included in the food bill voluntarily or automatically by hotels or restaurants.

"No service charge collection shall be made under any other name. No hotel or restaurant may require a customer to pay a service fee and must expressly state that doing so is voluntary, optional, and up to the customer's discretion.

Consumers shall not be subject to any access restrictions or service provision limitations based on the collection of service fees. It is not permitted to add the service charge to the food bill and charge GST on the entire sum. The CCPA said that a customer may ask a hotel or restaurant to not include service charges in the final bill total. By dialing 1915 or using the NCH mobile app, the consumer can also file a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), which serves as an alternative dispute resolution process at the pre-litigation level.

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