Many restaurant-goers are under the impression that the service charge levied goes to workers, but employees and managers said this was not the case. Picture is for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Xpress

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Restaurants and cafeterias will be fined and possibly shut down if they do not abide by the Ministry of Economy's (MoE'S) rule to stop service charges while keeping menu prices the same.

According to Dr Hashim Saeed Al Nuaimi, Manager of the Consumer Protection Department at the MoE, the instructions were sent to all restaurants and cafeterias across the capital city in January 2010.

"Even though up to 80 per cent of restaurants and cafeterias across the capital city are abiding by our regulations, some are still violating them. Our consumer protection department is keeping a close eye on those who do, and are fining restaurants Dh100,000 and cafeterias Dh25,000 for not implementing the new regulation," Al Nuaimi told Gulf News. The ministry will also fine and may close down restaurants who have increased their menu prices to make up for omitting service charges, said Al Nuaimi.

"The ministry has already made it clear that service charges in restaurants are illegal and that menu prices should stay as is. Failure to do that will result in strict actions from our end," said Al Nuaimi.

In Dubai, The Department of Economic Development (DED) said they are also closely monitoring price increases in restaurants. Omar Bushahab, CEO of Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection at DED said their team of inspectors are collecting menus from all restaurants and monitoring price increases. "If the price increases by eateries are found to be unacceptable we will take action against them. We are tracking the prices of food items in the old menu and comparing the prices after the service charge has been withdrawn," said Bushahab. He added that the Department has not so far received any complaints.

However, Gulf News has received several complaints from residents that they have noticed 10 to 15 per cent difference in prices.

— With inputs from Dina El Shammaa, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor

Complaints

The Consumer protection department at the Ministry of Economy urges consumers to report violations by calling hotline number 04-2020220.