A city Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has issued a notice to a Mahim fine dining restaurant in a complaint filed before it by a woman in which she demanded damages for being compelled to pay Rs. 75.30 as service charge when she went to dine there in Jan last year.
Prabhadevi resident Ridhina Nagwekar filed a complaint against the manager of Thangabali restaurant’s Mahim branch. In her complaint filed through advocate Prashant Nayak she has demanded a refund of Rs. 75.30 and Rs. 2 lakhs as compensation for the mental agony and litigation expenses she was made to suffer. The notice was issued by the consumer panel on June 24 after it recorded that it heard the advocate’s arguments and admitted the complaint against the opposite party under the Consumer Protection Act. It has directed that the restaurant file its response.
The 34-year-old stated in her complaint, in which she has attached the copy of the bill from the restaurant, that she had been to the restaurant to dine on Jan 30 last year and was illegally charged a service charge in her bill. She said the restaurant issued her a bill of Rs. 1,393 comprising Rs. 75.30 as an illegal service charge included in it. Nagwekar said she approached the duty manager and explained to him such a service charge cannot be mandatorily imposed on the customer and is voluntary in the form of a tip. Her complaint stated that she further explained it cannot be charged as a fixed component part of the bill as per provisions of law and is to be given by customers as per their discretion if they are satisfied with the service. She said in spite of this, she was compelled by the manager to pay the service charge amount.
“A fixed percentage of the bill cannot be levied as a service charge and the same cannot be made mandatorily payable by customers..” her complaint had stated. It added that the restaurant and its manager are jointly responsible for deficiency in service and unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection Act for charging her so.