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The Central Consumer Protection Authority is a regulatory body established under Section 10(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in relation to matters affecting consumer rights caused by individuals or entities engaging in unethical business practices or by the publication of unsuitable or incorrect advertisements that affect the public interest. It also contributes to the promotion of consumer trust by upholding consumer rights through efficient regulations. According to recommendations set forth by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), service fees should not be added to food bills automatically or by default by hotels or restaurants. The CCPA has produced a list of updated rules in this regard. The option to pay the fee or a tip is entirely up to the consumer; they cannot be coerced into doing either.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued five main guidelines to restaurants and hotels that levy a high service charge on invoices and force customers to pay it. These are what they are:-
In accordance with Section 18(2) (I) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the CCPA published these instructions. These rules supplement the government’s 2017 guidelines, which stated that the service charge is entirely voluntary.
Restaurants frequently add a “service charge” category to the bill that ranges from 5% to 15% in tips. It is intended to cover the cost of the person who arrives to serve you. The government had stated in 2017 that service charges were now entirely optional and not required, in accordance with the established criteria. Customers encounter numerous issues as a result of the fact that service charges are still added, sometimes under other names. Additionally, there have been situations where disputes over Service Charge payments resulted in fatalities. Thus, the rules are established for the benefit of the customers. Additionally, these rules demanded that eateries pay their employees fair wages and salaries.
Customers should pay close attention to the rules because they can utilize them to avoid being pressured or, in some cases, even coerced into paying the service costs. In order for people to understand their rights, customers should be fully informed of these principles and even spread the word about it. Additionally, they are able to file a complaint by calling 1915, the number for the National Consumer Helpline. Additionally, complaints may be submitted to the Consumer Commission or the District Collector.
The government has encouraged restaurants that they should pay fair wages to their personnel and increase product pricing to cover the cost rather than expecting customers to pay the service charges. These new guidelines also give clients the option to call 1915 or use the NCH mobile app to submit complaints on the Helpline, which acts as an extrajudicial alternative dispute resolution procedure before going to court. Complaints can also be emailed to the CCPA at email@example.com.