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The Great Restaurant Rip-off

May 28, 2011

Vir Sanghvi writes about the great wine robbery in HT Brunch where he talks about how the restaurants are ripping off customers by recommending very highly prices wines to unsuspecting souls. They call it up selling. I have never been a victim of this rip-off, primarily because I don’t order wine. However I have noticed that if I ask the server for recommendations, they have usually recommended the costliest items on the menu.

But there is an even bigger rip-off and scam that restaurants have started. It is the service charge that the restaurants have started to include in their bills. Have you noticed how the service charge has become a standard line item on most restaurant bills? And it seems to have affected most restaurants irrespective of their size and stature.

What was earlier a tip and optional seems to have become a mandatory item. You can now expect to pay an additional 10% to 15% over and above the already inflated cost of dishes.

The restaurants justify their high prices by saying that they provide a service in an ambience (usual arguments on why the charge much more than MRP on water for example). If the charges for items are high because of the service provided, why should they charge additional service charge on it. I am already paying Rs. 120-150 for a bottle (pint) of beer that has an MRP of Rs. 30. I fail to understand what would justify an additional service charge on this already inflated price?

And to make matters worse, they now add additional service tax on the service charge. In my view, this is the real great restaurant rip-off and a scam that affects us all than just a handful of wine drinkers. I wish someone would file a consumer court case or a PIL against service charge being added by restaurants.

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