Staff will suffer, feels restauranteurs; customers happy

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On Monday, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) prohibited eateries from automatically or by default levying service charges on food bills. It also allowed customers to file complaints in the event of a violation, requesting the concerned establishment to remove it from the bill amount.

This decision has left restaurateurs feeling anxious as they think this isn’t in the welfare of their staff. Umang Tewari, owner, Local, Junkyard and Liv Bar, says, “The service charge was for the staff welfare and now, the ban on it means less for staff and they will suffer. But anyway, it’ll be better if people now start tipping them.”

Sahil Sambhi, director and partner, Molecule (Delhi and Gurugram), agrees and adds that this has come as a big blow to the “employees of the F&B fraternity”. “I’m going to focus on how we can provide incentives to the staff and cover up for this loss,” he says, adding, “We will have to pay higher salaries, which is going to affect the business. The service charge is a thank you fee to the server, and its removal will raise the costs on which they operate.”

Sharmistha Cheema, founder, The Andhra Kitchen (Delhi), says, “Often, we hear about these random guidelines passed against packaging charges and service charges. As a businesswoman who has incurred losses in the last two years, I feel the government should now come up with proper guidelines that help the industry and the guests, too.”

Customers, on the other hand, feel that they can now decide how much to tip based on their experience and the service. Prabhat Verma, who runs a food group, DRAG, says he’s happy and excited with this change. Verma shares, “This advisory has come as a relief to many who often eat out and were not sure if the charge was eventually getting to the staff, who deserved it. With this development, the customer can decide how much to tip, rather than feeling forced to pay a fixed percentage.”

Another foodie, Priyanka Talreja, says as a customer and frequent visitor to restaurants, it was a much-needed move. “At times, the service is not up to the mark, and we are still forced to pay a huge service charge. So, I definitely support the move. But, having said that, when we see the service has been good and a service charge hasn’t been levied, we ensure we leave a decent tip,” she adds.

Aman Puri, corporate chef at Josh-The High Energy Bar, Pitampura, echoing similar sentiments feels levying of service charge is only beneficial for the staff. “Major chunk of amount collected goes directly to them and GST is also applied on it. And we as restaurateurs can easily get the difference amount added in the menu pricing but that again will not be in the interest of staff,” he shares.

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