Hyderabad: The legal metrology department has booked Barbeque Pride Restaurant in Hyderabad for levying service charges without a customer's consent.

The department inspected the restaurant following an online complaint filed by G. Jayakrishna Chowdhary. Reportedly, the customer was charged service charge without his consent when he visited the restaurant in January.

According to the Society for Safety of Public and Good Governance, Jayakrishna filed the complaint in January but he received the action taken report almost after nine months.

On 30 October, Rangareddy district legal metrology officer inspected the trading premises of Barbeque Pride Restaurant in Hitec city. A case has been registered against the establishment for contravention of Section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The case has been booked as per GO MS 9 dated 25 May 2017 of Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies department for service charge.

According to the ministry of consumer affairs, charging service tax is not valid. The government, in April 2017, had issued guidelines on fair trade practices related to charging of service charge by hotels and restaurants. As per these guidelines, service charge is optional and payment of it depends entirely upon the discretion of the consumers.

An aggrieved consumer can approach a consumer forum regarding charging of service charges by hotels and restaurants, according to the guidelines issued by the ministry.

Srikhande Umesh Kumar, a consumer activist and founder of Know Your Rights, told NewsMeter, "Paying service charge is optional. No establishment should levy service charge without the consent of the customer. It is not mandatory for customers to pay it."

In case any establishment forces a customer to pay the service charge, then s/he can file complaints with the legal metrology department and the consumer forum for compensation, he said, adding that the service charge column in the bill should be left blank so that the customer can write any value which s/he wants to pay.

Anusha Puppala

Anusha Puppala is currently working at NewsMeter. She had earlier worked as a reporter with ANI and The News Minute. Previously, she has worked as a Senior Reporter with the Deccan Chronicle Newspaper, covering education beat. She had briefly associated with the national television channel Tiranga TV as a special correspondent. Anusha has extensively written stories on education, traffic, civic-issues, human-Interesting, off-Beat, consumer issues, health and environment. Hailing from Visakhapatnam, Anusha is a social media buff and a passionate foodie. If not reporting, you will always find her travelling.

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