NEW DELHI: The government’s awareness drive against mandatory service charge at eateries is bringing significant change, though slowly. An online survey of consumers conducted in August has found that 30% consumers did not have to pay the charge post GST.
While 21% of the respondents said the eateries did not even mention the charge in the bill, 9% got the amount removed from the bill, according to the survey conducted by online social media platform LocalCircles covering 8,500 respondents in August.
The consumer affairs ministry has issued a guideline specifying mandatory service charge as an unfair trade practice and that it is the consumer’s discretion to pay it or not. Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said people should object to paying any such charge and should take such cases to consumer courts.
In May, the agency had conducted a similar survey and had found that 27% of the respondents did not have to pay service charge as against 30% in August. However, the findings also indicate how owners of eateries are not adopting the change easily.
While 52% of the respondents in May had said they paid service charge in the month, 53% admitted that they ended up paying the charge at eateries.
“Many consumers suggested that if there was a way for them to identify restaurants that don’t levy service charge beforehand, it would be of great help as they would rather only go to restaurants that don’t levy a forced service charge,” the survey has found.
About 80% of the respondents said they wanted restaurant rating sites to allow users to filter or search by ‘service charge mandatory’ (yes/no) option.
“In this survey, out of the 8,668 citizens who voted, only 14% voted against such a filter. As many as 7% were unsure. Consumers said such a filter would help them make informed choices while choosing a restaurant,” LocalCircles said.