New Delhi: The Department of Consumer Affairs has issued an advisory to the state governments to sensitise companies, hotels and restaurants within their jurisdiction regarding the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act on unfair trade practices.
It also told the states to advise them to disseminate proper information through display boards at appropriate places, said C.R. Chaudhary, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, the government has received a number of complaints from consumers through the National Consumer Helpline that some hotels and restaurants have been levying service charge at the rate of 5-20 per cent on the bills of food and beverages in lieu of tips which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him.
"The Department of Consumer Affairs has examined the matter and issued advisory to the state governments to sensitise the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 on unfair trade practices," said a ministry statement.
"It was also told advise the hotels/ restaurants to disseminate information through display at appropriate places in hotels/ restaurants that the 'service charges' are discretionary/ voluntary and that a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off," it added.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that a trade practice, which for the purpose of promoting sale, use or supply of goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an unfair trade practice.