In the sixth such case in the recent past, a restaurant here has been penalized for unfair trade practices relating to discount coupons and levying of service tax, service charges and VAT.

Swinky Aggarwal complained to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum that she had gone to the Bombay Chopstics Restaurant with her family and friends, and presented a coupon entitling her to a 25 per cent discount. However, when she was given the bill, she said she found that not only was the discount not given, service tax was wrongly charged, and so was VAT on a bottle of soft drink. The MRP of the soft drink was Rs. 35, but she was charged Rs. 100.

Unconvinced by the explanations of the restaurant management, the Forum said, “We feel the eatery is in regular practice of luring its customers by giving such type of attractive offers and later not honouring them. Once the eatery has advertised the discount coupons, it is bound to provide full discount. There was no need to impose any hidden charges on the pretext of clubbing with some other offer or deal.”

It also noted irregularities in the calculation of service tax. As regards VAT, the Forum said “No cogent/authentic document has been produced on record by the eatery to clarify how it could charge VAT on soft drinks on which VAT already stands paid by the restaurant which was included in the MRP and not to be paid again.”

Finding it guilty of unfair trade practice and deficiency in service, the Forum directed the restaurant to refund the excess amount of service tax and VAT illegally charged, and also pay Rs 10,000 as compensation for harassment and Rs 7,000 as litigation expenses.


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