Post Goods and Services Tax (GST) was levied it has been a month and in that month there have been plenty of top restaurants that have been accused of overcharging their customers under the garb of GST. Legal Metrology Department (LMD) has received over 68 consumer complaints from across Maharashtra out of which 90 per cent are about food bills by restaurant. The LMD is a consumer watchdog that is authorised to act against short delivery, excess demand and over pricing by unscrupulous businessmen or establishments.
LMD sources told Hindustan Times on Thursday that a majority of the complaints against reckless billing by eateries had been received from Mumbai, followed by Pune, Aurangabad and Nashik, respectively. “These are the main urban hubs in the state which have a culture of eating out. It is natural that the exorbitant increase on food bill following GST is pinching the consumer more than the price rise on other items,” sources said, explaining the deluge of complaints against restaurants.
The customers have alleged that the restaurants were earlier charging table charge along with VAT, service tax and service charge now the taxation has increased because of GST. The cooling charge never existed before. “Restaurants have been accused of charging anything between Rs3-5 over the MRP on a bottle of mineral water served from a fridge,” the official with LMD said to Hindustan Times.
Some other complaints pertain to discrepancies in price of food items mentioned in the menu card and the composite tax levied afterwards. “As per their (consumer’s) demand, the price of food items mentioned in the menu card should have included GST,” the official said, mentioning a consumer complaint.
President of the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association, Adarsh Shetty said that they have to stick to the GST as per the requirement of legislation. “We have made an appeal to our members not to levy service charge. Some have adhered to our request, while some have not. We can only make an appeal,” he said. When asked about “cooling charge”, Shetty said, “I have never heard of it before. No one can levy such charge above MRP.”