January brought us the blazing news of the government issuing a notice to restaurants and hotels countrywide to display the information stating the optionality of service charges that is levied on the food and drinks. While that was a move that the government had aimed keeping the consumers in mind, it hardly made a difference to the people.

A sample bill displaying the levying of 10% service charge over the bill

The Confusion

The confusion first arose after the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said that the service charge on food/drinks wasn’t compulsory and that the customer has the liberty for asking it to be removed from their bill if they wish to seek so.

Now although the Indian Constitution (Article 15(2) prohibits restriction to any citizen of India on entry to a public hotel, restaurant or place of entertainment on the grounds of “only of religion, race, caste, sex [and/or] place of birth”, but whenever you are entering a restaurant/hotel, you are unknowingly agreeing to the written (and unwritten) rules and regulations of the establishment.

So that obviously lands the customer in a state of dilemma.

The Consequences

Now as if the confusion wasn’t enough, it also brought upon some serious consequences. There were cases of outbursts and reported instances of friction between the patrons and employees at eateries and pubs.

Now, I’m not against tipping the attendants but having 20% tip being forced onto my food bill without even considering my feedback is absolutely absurd. Suffice it to say, I’ve myself been involved in several such heated arguments with the managers of several establishments over their refusal to eliminate the service charge from my food bill, once the bill is printed.

Final Verdict

Owing to the number of complaints and spats that were breaking out in restaurants and eateries, the government finally decided to put an end to the confusion and the conflicts between customers and the establishment owners.

The government has now finally asked for the removal of the service charge voluntary component levied by hotels/restaurants/pubs. This news was confirmed in a press conference by the current Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan.

“Have issued an advisory to restaurants to remove levying service charge since it is not a tax, only a tip”, said Paswan explaining the decision of the government.

So now, there won’t be any more confusion on the ‘to pay or not to pay’ over the service charge dilemma. You could obviously show your gratitude towards your steward/stewardess by paying a generous tip but generosity would no longer be determined by the overall cost of the food you ordered at the establishment.

Image Credits: Google Images

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