Heavy price on a platter

Service charge

Heavy price on a platter

Service charge is a fancy  word for a tip. That’s fine, but how do I know that the restaurant managers will distribute the collected charges to the waiters?” asks Alex Thomas, a professional and who eats out frequently.

In order to avoid this confusion and what almost seems like a forced payment for the customer, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had recently said that service charge by hotels and restaurant will not decide on service charges to be levied but it will be the customer’s choice to do so. To make this official, a set of new guidelines are being issued to the management.

Alex says, “There have been many occasions when I have had bad dining experiences but since the service charge is added along with the other taxes, I have no choice but to pay. Most of the time, it is a large amount which makes it heavy on the pocket.”

Most diners prefer to tip the waiters individually for their good work. “I’ve spoken to a few waiters and they were unaware about splitting the service charge among the employees. They take what the management gives them, so I would rather tip them individually and know where my money is truly going,” he adds.

Aritro Banerjee, a business intelligence consultant, also visits different restaurants in the city on a daily basis. He says, “When the initial proposal of ‘pay service charge only if you want’, as soon as you walk into the restaurant, the waiters come in to warn you that they are still charging for service in the bill. You can choose to dine here or not was the message conveyed. It almost felt like a threat, I must say.”

He avoids places which provides bad service and food. He explains, “In restaurants abroad, there is a polite way of telling the waiter that they did a good job by tipping them. I’m not sure how the ‘not mandatory’ law will work here as the general rules itself are not explained to the customer or the employees correctly.”

Anirban Dutta, the owner of ‘The Bangalore Pantry’, says that they don’t add a service charge to the bill. “When the customer is presented with the bill, if they see an extra charge, they tend to get jittery about the total amount. It’s better that the service charge is added to the basic cost in order to avoid additional charges. But if the customer chooses not to pay the extra charge, the restaurateur suffers. It’s actually easier said than done.”

“One thing that many customers don’t realise is that some restaurants use the service charge for additional purposes like fixing damages, restaurant repairs and then the rest goes to the employees. I’m sure many restaurateurs are unhappy about the new guidelines but let’s hope that everything works in everyone’s favour,” explains Anirban.

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