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New Delhi : Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on September 13, 2017, said in order to check the levying of Service Charge compulsorily, the CBDT has been asked to consider inclusion of Service Charge while assessing tax. Similarly, directions have been issued to the officers of Legal Metrology of all the states to monitor the cases of charging more than MRP.

In order to stop levying Service Charge compulsorily from consumers without their consent, guidelines were issued on April 21, 2017.  A number of renowned hotels/restaurants have made Service Charge optional under the guidelines. But still the complaints are being received through National Consumer Helpline about levying of 5% to 20% Service Charge compulsorily by some hotels and restaurants.

To stop this unfair practice, hotels and restaurants have been asked either to leave the column of Service Charge blank or mention on the Bill that it is optional. It means that the consumer can pay the Service Charge if he or she wants, according toa PIB release. In this regard the state governments were asked to issue directions to hotels and restaurants to display the message at an appropriate place that Service Charge is completely optional and if the consumer is not satisfied with the services of that hotel or restaurant, he or she is free not to pay Service Charge.

Similarly, guidelines were issued in April 2017 against levy of Service Charge compulsorily and consider it as an unfair trade. All the states have been asked to implement these guidelines strictly and sensitize the consumers about the same through publicity. These guidelines were sent to Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and Hotel Association of India (HAI) also, according to the PIB release. Advertisements have also been released under ‘Jago Grahak Jago’ conveying the message among consumers that Service Charge is not mandatory.Hotels or restaurants can’t compel the consumer to pay Service Charge.

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