Restaurants warned over 10% service charge

Restaurants warned over 10% service charge

Restaurants are able to collect a 10% service charge only when they prominently display the fee to customers, according to the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB).

Pol Col Prateep Charoengul of the OCPB on Tuesday responded to a question over whether a customer needs to pay for a service charge. He responded by saying the service charge is an extra charge that restaurants collect from customers which differs from tips that customers give when they are satisfied with the service.

The service charge is normally collected at no more than 10% of the total bill. It is an optional and not a mandatory charge that a restaurant can choose to include on the bill, Prateep said. But all business operators must clearly display a notice saying that they collect a service charge.

"It is the right of customers to know all the charges they will get from a restaurant before they decide to dine in the restaurant or not," he said.

If restaurant owners fail to comply, customers can refuse to pay the service charge, he said.

Customers can file a complaint with the Department of Internal Trade or call its 1166 hotline if a restaurant collects a service charge of over 10% or does not display a notification that they will collect such a charge, he said.

The issue has recently gained public attention after Jermsak Pinthong, former senator and special lecturer at Thammasat University, questioned the need for a customer to pay a service charge in a restaurant.

In a Facebook post, he said after discussing with six legal experts, he found that customers have the right to refuse to pay the service charge. Restaurants, he said, have no right to force customers to pay a service charge.

In a restaurant, there are no special services other than serving food to customers, he said. But restaurants charge 10% for their service while some other restaurants in Bangkok collect a 15%-20% charge.

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  • charge (noun): a payment or fee for something - ค่า
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การบ่น, ข้อที่ไม่พอใจ
  • mandatory: ordered by a law or rule - ตามข้อบังคับ
  • notice: information or a warning about something that is going to happen - การแจ้ง, การแจ้งล่วงหน้า
  • optional: available or possible if you want it, but you do not have to have it or do it - ตัวเลือก  ที่เลือกได้
  • refuse: to say you not want something that has been offered to you - ปฏิเสธ
  • right: a moral or legal claim to have or get something or to behave in a particular way - สิทธิ
  • satisfied: pleased because you have achieved something or because something that you wanted to happen has happened - พอใจ ถูกใจ
  • senator: a member of the Senate - วุฒิสมาชิก
  • service (noun): the particular skills or help that a person/thing is able to offer - การให้บริการ
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