Amid rising complaints related to levying of service charge by hotels and restaurants, regulator CCPA has asked state chief secretaries to create awareness about the new guidelines and direct collectors to take appropriate action for protection of consumer rights, a senior government official said on Thursday.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will also write a separate letter to all District Collectors (DCs) to sensitise them of their role under the Consumer Protection Act.
Even consumer commissions will start cracking the whip on violators as new guidelines are not a "request letter" but has enforceability, the official told PTI.
On July 4, the CCPA came out with the new guidelines barring hotels and restaurants from levying service charge automatically or by default in food bills. It also clearly stated what steps consumers can take in case of violation of the guidelines.
"CCPA has written to all chief secretaries of the states to arrange for wide publicity of the new guidelines and direct district collectors to take appropriate action for protection of consumer rights in light of the new guidelines," the official said.
Consumers can complain in writing or through electronic mode to the District Collectors who are empowered to inquire or investigate such complaints and submit a report to the CCPA, the official said.
In the letter, the CCPA told chief secretaries that many complaints have been registered on National Consumer Helpline (NCH) with regard to levying of service charge.
These include complaints of restaurants making service charge compulsory and adding it in the bill by default even though collection of any such charge is optional and voluntary for the consumer and not mandatory as per the law.
According to CCPA, more than 300 complaints were received in the last one year. In last one week alone, 180 complaints have been received on NCH.