SodaBottleOpenerWala charges ‘optional charges’ without permission

Hyderabad: The next time you visit a restaurant, check the bill, or you might just end up paying more than what you are supposed to pay.

In a rude shock, a customer who visited the Hyderabad-based restaurant, ‘SodaBottleOpenerWala’ on Thursday found out that he was charged an additional charge, under the head ‘optional charge.’

Mohammed Sabuwala, co-founder at OneDigiflow had visited the restaurant. After his meal when the final bill was presented, he was surprised to see an ‘optional fee’ of Rs 198.50 on the final bill.

Mohammed Sabuwala took to Twitter to question the reason behind the extra cost.
Posting a picture of the bill he tweeted, “Since when did restaurants start charging for their employees (optional charges), so if you don’t check the bill, apart from paying for the food, you are paying staff salaries too, how fair is this hyderabad? (sic).”

When contacted, Mr Sabuwala said, “Restaurants need to be upfront about all the charges in their bill. If anyone is unknowingly paying any extra amount, it is a clear case of cheating and the restaurant should refund the money along with the damages.”

They should also be upfront about the water bottle service charges. In my case, I didn’t see the MRP on the bottle, so I cannot comment, but would definitely like an explanation on the line item which says smart water and ‘service,’ he added.

Asked if the restaurant had given him any clarification on the issue, he replied No.
Activist Vijay Gopal who runs a forum against corruption when asked about the issue said, “It is not acceptable and in addition to filing a police complaint it should be taken up in the consumer court. The ministry of consumer affairs has clearly stated that restaurants cannot decide charges by themselves and they cannot force customers to pay the charges. Customer can dial 100 and complain regarding the issue.”

“I don’t understand why people are ok paying these additional charges? It is optional and the consumer should have refused to pay it. But once it is put on the bill, a consumer cannot refuse to pay it. The restaurant here is at fault as they did not ask the customer before putting the amount on the bill. It is prerogative that the restaurant asks the customer if they can put any additional charges,” he adds.

In the defence of the restaurant, floor manager of SodaBottleOpenerWala, Nihar said, “We don’t force any customer to pay the optional charge as the name reads, it’s optional. A customer can or cannot pay the 10 per cent service or optional charge.”

Anurag Mallick

A sports enthusiast, Anurag Mallick is currently working with Newsmeter as a reporter. He is a mass communication graduate from Loyola Academy. He is also a budding presenter and loves talking in front of the camera. His future aim is to discuss cricket professionally. He has earlier interned with a YouTube Channel, "Hind ki Pukaar" where he spoke on various topics infront of the camera. He has also interned with "WrytIn", a content writing platform, where he wrote articles on sports & entertainment. "Lights, Camera, Cricket" is what sums him up. He also loves playing cricket and other sports like Badminton & Volleyball.

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