Dubai: Restaurants dishing out service charges to their customers are aware that it is illegal to inflate food bills in this manner but insist they will stick with the practice until there is an official notification.
However, some restaurants have stopped levying the charge after media reports quoted the Ministry of Economy as stating that it is illegal to impose service charges.
When Gulf News visited the Japengo Café in Jumeirah on Monday and refused to pay service charge, the restaurant management insisted on the additional payment, maintaining that they had not received any directive from the authorities in this regard.
"It is illegal but we do not follow newspaper stories. We have instructions from our management to continue taking service charges until we get a memo," said the employee.
The management at Fuddruckers, too, said they would continue with their 12 per cent service charge and asked customers with complaints to approach the authorities.
The Planet Hollywood restaurant, however, said they had withdrawn the service charge after the media reports on Saturday. "After the story was out in local newspapers, our manager told us to stop imposing the 10 per cent service charge," said a member of the staff.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and chairman of the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection, has warned restaurants against levying the illegal service charges. This followed several complaints received by the Ministry of Economy that some restaurants were adding on as much as 5 to 20 per cent of the bill on the pretext of service charge.
The committee has stated clearly that this charge is against the Consumer Protection Law Number 26 for 2006.
Al Mansouri said the ministry would take tough action against those found violating the law, adding that it had recommended the implementation of Article 3 of the Consumer Protection Law and to contact all government departments to take actions against restaurants imposing service charge.
Restaurants that have decided against imposing service charges said they believe it is not fair to force their customers to pay.
"I do not know whether it is illegal. But as a policy we do not take service charges because we believe that if customers want to pay, it has to be voluntarily," said Daniel Jimenez, Restaurant Manager of The One Café in Jumeirah.
Have you ever refused to pay a service charge? Did you get away with it? Click on the 'post a comment' below to share your thoughts