93% consumers want government to scrap service charge on bills

93% consumers want government to scrap service charge on bills
Representational Image. Picture Courtesy: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

A staggering 93 percent of hotel consumers want the government to do away with service charge on hotel bills, with 71 percent would willingly boycott the hotels levying the charge, an online survey by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) has revealed.

The two-week online survey was conducted across 48 cities to understand the consumer sentiment when it comes to levying service charge on hotel bills.

While a majority of the 2,290 respondents were from cities in Maharashtra like Mumbai, Pune and Thane, consumers from Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai also took part.

The MGP is now planning to take the results of its survey to the department of consumer affairs next week as an evidence reflecting the consumer sentiment in a bid to form a policy guideline or change the implementation against the mandatory levying of such service charges.

Key findings of the survey:

* When asked about the charge, 90% respondents knew that hotels and restaurants include a service charge in their bills, however only 34% respondents knew that the service charge was added in lieu of the tip.

* On whether they knew if the charge was optional, 69% respondents said they were aware of the government’s clarification. 40%, however, didn’t know they could ask for a waiver if they were unsatisfied with the service.

* 39% respondents said they would feel awkward or embarrassed to ask for a waiver in front of friends, relatives or business contacts, while 21% were not sure.

* When asked about what they would do if they were charged against their wishes, 64% respondents said they would pay the service charge reluctantly, whereas the remaining 36% said they would demand a waiver.

* On whether they feel the restaurant would comply with their waiver request, only 12% respondents felt that the restaurant would waive the charge whereas 37% were not sure if it would be waived.

* When asked if they were successful in getting the charge waived off, only 3% said they were successful while 87% had never tried asking for a waiver. 11% said they tried but failed.

* When asked about what they would do if the hotel refused to waive the charge, 31% said they would simply pay it and leave. 15% said they would pay the bill, but without the charge. Many were open to the idea of complaining to authorities.

* Lastly, 93% of respondents said they were in the favor of the government scrapping the service charge altogether. 71% were even willing to boycott the hotels levying the charge.

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