Kolkata Central District Commission holds Marco-Polo restaurant liable for charging MRP and charging service charges

The District Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission-II, Central Kolkata (West Bengal) bench comprising Mrs. Sukla Sengupta (Chairman) and Mr. Reyazuddin Khan (Member) held Marco Polo restaurant, Park Street (Kolkata) liable for charging more than MRP for packaged water and 650ml Kingfisher (S) bottle. The District Commission also ruled that the restaurant had a duty to serve customers without charging additional service charges.

Quick facts:

The complainant visited the Marco-Polo restaurant with family members for dinner. On arrival they ordered starters and packaged water, followed by main courses and various drinks, including a Kingfisher (S) brand 650ml. When the complainant received the bill, he was shocked to find that the charges for the water and Kingfisher exceeded the MRP. In addition, the restaurant charged 5% VAT and 10% service charge. The complainant has objected. However, the restaurant staff was not responsive to his requests. Since the complainant had no choice, he settled Rs. 4,112/- bill in cash and left the restaurant. Feeling aggrieved, the complainant filed a consumer complaint with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-II, Central Kolkata (“District Commission”).

In response, the restaurant argued that the complaint was misconstrued and false. The restaurant admitted that the complainant had come to eat with her relatives, but disputed the authenticity of the photocopy of the bill. She highlighted the six-month delay in filing the complaint. Additionally, it pointed out the absence of the restaurant’s name on the bill and the lack of evidence as to the specific items consumed or who paid the bill.

Comments from the District Committee:

The district committee noted that the restaurant cost Rs. 30/- for a packed drinking bottle and Rs. 260/- for the 650ml Kingfisher (S), both above the MRP. In addition, 5% GST charges and 10% service charges will be charged, totaling Rs. 360.50/-, were illegally levied by the restaurant. The district commission ruled that the restaurant must serve food without additional service charges.

Further, the District Commission held that the additional charges for 10% service charge, packaged drinking water and hard drinks amounted to an amount of Rs. 651/- in total could not be justified. It noted that when the complainant requested to speak to the manager or owner about the overbilling, her request was rejected and she was forced to pay the excessive amount of Rs. 4,112/-.

Therefore, the District Commission found that the conduct of the restaurant’s staff constituted a deficiency in service because it failed to address the complainant’s concerns and charged unjustified fees. Accordingly, the District Commission directed the restaurant to refund the amount of Rs. 651/- i.e. the excess amount invoiced to the complainant. It was also ordered to pay compensation of Rs. 1,000/- to the complainant along with Rs. 500/- towards the legal costs.